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SF urge support for two 'very reasonable' amendments to Coroners Bill

13 December, 2005

Sinn Féin Dáil leader and Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caolain TD has announced that Sinn Féin has Submitted “two very reasonable amendments” to the Coroners (Amendment) Bill 2005.

Speaking in the Dáil during private members business this evening he said, “Sinn Féin fully supports the proposed Coroners (Amendment) Bill 2005.  The problems that this Bill seeks to rectify have been allowed to persist for far too long with the terrible consequence that families have been denied justice and the court has been restricted in its ability to identify recommendations to prevent further fatalities.  We commend the Bill to the House and urge all to support it. 

“However without wishing to unnecessarily delay the Bill Sinn Féin have submitted two very reasonable amendments with the purpose of addressing two further priorities that we had identified.  The Bill as proposed does not cover two very important issues.  In light of the good will in the House I would urge Deputies to consider improving the Bill by ensuring that it puts mandatory inquests into deaths occurring in custody and following custody on a legislative basis.   The need for this is clearly illustrated by the tragic death of Brian Rossiter.

“I also believe that the Bill would be greatly improved by the inclusion of a provision enshrining ‘the public interest’ as a positive principle underpinning the purpose of the Coroners Court.  The Court should be encouraged to make general recommendations where this could prevent future fatalities, particularly in custody and hospital settings.  To achieve this the Coroner’s Act must be reformed to allow a broader interpretation of the purpose of the Coroners court thereby allowing it to ask all the necessary questions.

“In the tragic case of young Frances Sheridan who died following her discharge from Cavan General Hospital, the Court was not allowed to ask the questions that were necessary to fully understand the causes of her death and hence to make recommendations aimed at preventing further fatalities.  The Court should be in a position to examine the understaffing, under-funding and mismanagement of our health services that tragically contribute to preventable deaths.” ENDS

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