Coroners are independent judicial officers who are available to deal with matters relating to deaths that may require further investigation to establish the cause of death.
Coroners in Northern Ireland can either be barristers or solicitors and are appointed by the Lord Chancellor.
What do Coroners do?
Coroners inquire into deaths reported to them that appear to be:
- unexpected or unexplained,
- as a result of violence,
- an accident,
- as a result of negligence,
- from any cause other than natural illness or disease, or
- in circumstances that require investigation.
The Coroner will seek to establish the cause of death and will make whatever inquiries are necessary to do this e.g. ordering a postmortem examination, obtaining witness statements and medical records, or holding an inquest.
The Coroners Office is based in May’s Chambers, 73 May Street, Belfast. The office provides Coroners Service to the whole of Northern Ireland.
The Coroners Service is headed by a High Court Judge, Mr Justice Weir. There is one Senior Coroner and three Coroners.
- Senior Coroner
Mr J L Leckey
Ms Suzanne Anderson
Mr Brian Sherrard
Three Coroners Liaison Officers are available to help bereaved family members. They are Mrs Grainne Barker, Mrs Eileen McMahon and Mrs Ruth Watson.
There is also a Coroners Medical Officer, Dr Gillian Clarke.
The Coroners Office management consists of:
- Senior Manager
Mrs Stephanie O’Neill
- Office Manager
Mrs Sharon McAleenon