Stardust families call for reform of State inquest system

Inquest Solicitors Dublin – Reform of Coronial System

Solicitor for the families of the Stardust victims has called for reform of how inquests are carried out.

In correspondence to Minister for Justice Helen McEntee, they said that two changes, regarding jury selection and legal aid, that were rolled out for the recently completed Stardust inquests should now be enacted across the board.

In 2022, Ms McEntee, amended legislation to allow for the “independent selection” of the Stardust jury and also ensured the jurors would continue to be paid wages by their employers, as is the case with criminal and civil trials.

The jurors were selected by way of the electoral register and a senior counsel, as opposed to by gardaí which is the normal case for inquests.

Solicitor Darragh Mackin, from Phoenix Law, said without those amendments, the Stardust inquest “simply would not have been able to take place”.

He also said that changes which meant the families of the victims, regardless of income, received legal aid should also be extended to cover all inquests.

In the correspondence to Ms McEntee, he said: “There can never be another jury in this country selected in any other way than that provided for in criminal and civil cases under the Juries Act.

Mr Mackin added: “Inquests are as, if not more, important to bereaved families than their criminal or civil equivalent. This should be reflected in how the jury is selected. As long as they remain uncorrected, families’ confidence in the coronial process will be undermined.”

Last month, after year-long proceedings, the jury at the inquests into the 1981 disaster, which claimed the lives of 48 people, returned a verdict of unlawful killing.

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