Expert group should be established to examine State’s Covid response – coroner

Move comes after inquest into death of John Carolan in Mayo hospital in April 2020

A coroner has recommended that a national expert group be established to review the effects of the Covid pandemic in Ireland and the State’s response to it.

After returning a verdict of death from natural causes at an inquest in Swinford into the death of John (Jackie) Carolan from Bellacorick, Co Mayo, the Coroner for Mayo, Pat O’Connor proposed that the national review body be set up.

Mr Carolan (79), a retired ESB worker of Ballymunnelly, Bellacorick, Co. Mayo, died in Mayo University Hospital on April 1st, 2020 after contracting Covid-19.

The father of four was admitted to the hospital about two weeks earlier after suffering a stroke at home.


At an earlier inquest hearing, Mr Carolan’s family claimed that procedures relating to the control of Covid-19 at MUH contributed to his death.

Before returning his verdict on Monday, Mr O’Connor rejected the option of a narrative verdict, stating that such a ruling would be “a cop-out” which does not do justice to the deceased or the family of the deceased at the end of the day.

Mr O’Connor said he fully appreciated the concerns of Mr Carolan’s family and their right to query and question the circumstances of their loved one’s death.

At the initial inquest hearing into Mr Carolan’s death, David O’Malley, solicitor for the Carolan family, submitted that the two verdicts available to the coroner were one of misadventure or a narrative verdict.

He claimed there was misadventure as Mr Carolan was placed in danger as a result of a Covid patient being placed in his ward.

However, Conor Bourke, senior counsel for Mayo University Hospital and the HSE, said there was no case for misadventure or narrative verdicts and in his opinion the appropriate verdict was death due to natural causes.