The Government has approved plans for legislative amendments to put in place special arrangements for the selection and summoning of jury members for the inquests into the Stardust fire in Dublin in 1981.
The Department of Justice said that it intended to have the legislation passed before the summer recess and enacted quickly, enabling the Dublin Coroner to start the inquests in line with her proposed timeframe.
Under the proposals, the coroner will be able to seek the assistance of the Courts Service in selecting a jury for the Stardust inquests. An Garda Síochána usually assembles juries in such inquests.
The jury selection process will operate in a similar way to that of civil and criminal court proceedings.
Inquest may last for months
The legislation will also ensure that employers will continue to pay the wages of people summoned to serve on the Stardust inquests jury.
The measures are being taken to address concerns raised by victims’ families, in recognition that the inquests may last for a number of months, and “while also conscious of the principles underpinning jury service as a civic duty that must be carried out with impartiality and fairness”.
The department has stressed that these special provisions will apply only to the Stardust inquests, “given the extraordinary circumstances”.
They will be contained in a civil-law miscellaneous provisions bill being developed to deal with issues linked to the humanitarian response to the war in Ukraine.
The proposed Stardust Inquests legislative provisions would:
- Disapply part IV of the Coroners Act 1962 – including section 43, where the coroner informs an Garda Síochána to assemble a jury for an inquest,
- Draw on relevant provisions of the Juries Act 1976 and the Coroners Bill 2007, with suitable amendment, for the jury selection and summoning process, and the eligibility and disqualification criteria,
- Allow the Dublin Coroner to request the assistance of the Courts Service in selecting and summoning a jury by ballot drawn from the Electoral Register.