Dublin City Coroner yesterday called for a change in the law to ensure
that families were notified of inquests.
is currently no legal requirement for families to be notified, although
most of the country’s 45 coroners have a practice of adjourning
inquests if relatives are not present.
Brian Farrell said the requirement should be made part of the
forthcoming legislation to replace the 1962 Coroner’s Act.
would welcome statutory provisions making it mandatory that adequate and
timely notice be given to families,” he said.
Farrell was giving evidence to the Oireachtas sub-committee on justice,
which is examining the murder of forestry worker Seamus Ludlow, in
Dundalk, in 1976.
Henry Barron found in his report that the Ludlow family were only
contacted by gardaí about the holding of the inquest into their
brother’s death 45 minutes before it was due to begin and, as a
result, none of them were able to attend.
under our practice, that simply would not pass muster.
the family were not there, we would say the inquest should be
adjourned,” said Dr Farrell.
families are usually contacted on behalf of the coroner by the gardaí
investigating the death.
Britain, this task is performed by officials from the coroner’s
“In an ideal world, having our own coroner’s officers would be the
best solution and that’s not denigrating the role of the gardaí at
all,” said Dr Farrell.
said there were situations where some relatives didn’t attend an
inquest because of a split in the family but added that, in general,
there was a high level of attendance.
families invariably attend so it’s always a surprise when they’re
year, the Dublin City Coroner’s office dealt with 2,400 cases of
sudden deaths, carried out 1,300 autopsies and held 410 inquests.
Oireachtas sub-committee on justice also heard evidence from retired
detective sergeant Owen Corrigan, who was a key figure in the Ludlow
said he had travelled to Belfast in 1979 to meet officers from the Royal
Ulster Constabulary (RUC) about a bombing in Dundalk. He was
disappointed by their lack of co-operation but was very excited when
they passed on the identities of four loyalist paramilitaries suspected
of carrying out the Ludlow murder in January 1979.
everything into account, I felt this was very important information in
relation to the investigation of our crime,” he said.
Corrigan said he was absolutely devastated when he did not receive
authorisation from C3, the Garda security section, to travel across the
border again to follow up the information.
fully expected myself and Superintendent (John) Courtney to be going,”
was told by Superintendent Courtney that former Commissioner Larry Wren,
then in charge of C3, did not want them to travel to interview the four
suspects because the RUC would demand the extradition of four IRA
suspects in return.
Henry Barron accepted this account in his report, but Commissioner Wren
has disputed it.
four suspects were arrested in Northern Ireland in 1998, but the DPP
there decided not to initiate a prosecution.
Oireachtas sub-committee on justice is due to hear evidence from Judge
Barron on Thursday.