Payment of inquest jury fees will only apply to Stardust

Payment of inquest jury fees will only apply to Stardust

It is intended, subject to the advice of the Attorney General, that Justice Minister Helen McEntee will be in a position to make progress on this issue in the coming weeks. File Picture

A proposed change in legislation to allow for the payment of inquest jury fees will only apply to the inquest into the Stardust fire.

The inquest into the 1981 fire that killed 48 young people has been stalled over issues such as the payment of expenses for those summoned to sit on the jury for what is likely to be the longest running and largest inquest in the history of the State.

The Coroners Act 1962 does not provide for a statutory authority to prescribe fees or expenses to jurors for service at inquests when summoned. The provisions of the Juries Act 1976, relating to the payment of salaries by employers to jurors, do not apply to coroner inquests.

Sources in the Department of Justice confirmed to the Irish Examiner that any new legislation would be specific to the Stardust inquest and not for any future inquests that may run longer than a number of days.

When it was put to the source that there could be another inquest in which juries may require fees due to the length of the case, it was noted that officials “are hoping nothing as bad as the Stardust happens again”.

 Inquest into the 1981 fire that killed 48 young people has been stalled over issues such as the payment of expenses for those summoned to sit on the jury for what is likely to be the longest running and largest inquest in the history of the State.
Inquest into the 1981 fire that killed 48 young people has been stalled over issues such as the payment of expenses for those summoned to sit on the jury for what is likely to be the longest running and largest inquest in the history of the State.

It is intended, subject to the advice of the Attorney General, that Justice Minister Helen McEntee will be in a position to make progress on this issue in the coming weeks.

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice said: “Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has acknowledged the concerns raised regarding the legislative provisions governing the selection of jurors for the Stardust inquests and the appropriate supports that may need to be put in place should the inquests extend over a period of months.

“The minister made a commitment to consider if legislative amendments might be appropriate to address those concerns, while also conscious of the principles underpinning jury service as a civic duty that must be carried out with impartiality and fairness.

"The minister is currently consulting with the Attorney General on possible legislative amendments to ensure that the concerns raised can be addressed in a way that is both practicable and legally sustainable.

“The minister is not in a position to speculate as to the possible length of inquests arising in response to future events.

“However, the minister intends that all matters pertaining to coronial law will be considered in the review currently under way in her department as mentioned in the Justice Plan 2022."

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