What is the Coroner Service?
Who are Coroners and what do they do?
Coroners are either qualified doctors or lawyers. They are independent officeholders appointed by the local authority who fund the Coroners Service. Their job is to look into the circumstances of a sudden, unexplained, violent or unnatural death. This may require a post mortem examination, sometimes followed by an inquest. Through their investigation, a Coroner will decide whether a death was due to natural or unnatural causes. If a death may be due to unnatural causes, than an inquest must be held by law.
Why does the Coroner become involved?
Sudden, unnatural, violent or unexplained deaths have to be reported to the Coroner. Doctors, funeral undertakers, the Registrar of Deaths, any householder and every person in charge of any institution or premises where the person who died was residing at the time of death have to inform the Coroner. Usually the death is reported to the Gardaí, who will inform the Coroner. For more details on the kind of deaths that need to be reported to the Coroner, please see the Reportable Deaths Section on this site.
Who helps the Coroner?
An Garda Síochána assists the local Coroner. They arrange the formal identification of the person who has died.
The Gardaí need to collect information for the Coroner. The fact that relatives may be met at the hospital by a uniformed Garda, or the Gardaí may call to their home to take a statement does not mean that the death is regarded as suspicious. The Gardaí are usually assisting the Coroner in establishing the identity of the person who has died, and where, how and when their death occurred.
If the Coroner decides that an inquest is required, the Gardaí will also usually inform you of the date, time and place of the inquest as soon as possible.