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Deadline for registering deaths in Ireland could be cut to two weeks

Relatives currently have up to three months to register a death in the State.

Image: Shutterstock/vural yavas

THE GOVERNMENT IS considering changes to the process by which deaths are registered in Ireland, including shortening the deadline to two weeks after a person dies.

The General Register Office has announced it will begin a public consultation process on proposed changes to improve the efficiency on how deaths are formally registered here.

It follows concerns about the length of time it takes for deaths to be registered in the State, particularly as relatives have up to three months to register an individual’s date of death at present.

Unlike other countries, Ireland does not have a system in place whereby the death of an individual must be notified to public authorities as soon as possible.

The problem has implications for estimating national population statistics at a given time, public health management and for co-operation with international bodies.

The issue has become particularly apparent in the past year, when Covid-19 has led to thousands of deaths but official estimates of excess mortality caused by the pandemic have been difficult to gauge due to the length of time relatives have to register a death.

New proposals by the government would cut this time to just two weeks.

There are also plans for a new system whereby doctors and other medics can electronically report a death within 24 hours after their pronouncement.

Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys explained that the plans were as much about easing the burden on bereaved families as making the process more efficient.

“There hasn’t been a single community left untouched from the heartache of loss over the past year,” she said.

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“Covid-19 has left devastating effects on thousands of our families, who, like so many others, are still dealing with the grief of losing someone close to them.

“Registering a death is not easy – at any stage – pre-Covid or post-Covid.”

A public consultation on the proposals was launched today and will last until 12 April.

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