Sharp hike in Mayo's mortality rates revealed

Mayo experienced a surge in deaths during 2022, many more than would normally be expected.

That’s according to the Coroner for the Coronial District of Mayo, Pat O’Connor, who has made his obligatory annual returns to the Department of Justice in recent weeks.

The number of deaths dealt with by Mr. O’Connor in his district (excluding North Mayo where Dr. Eleanor Fitzgerald acts as coroner) was 1,008.

Corresponding figures for north Mayo were not available at this time.

A total of 720 reports were made to the coroner who directed 184 post mortems and went on to hold 104 inquests.

Just over 18 per cent of deaths Mr. O’Connor dealt with were the subject of post mortem examinations and 10.3 per cent were the subject of inquests.

Seventy one per cent of deaths reported did not require a post mortem or inquest.

All of the inquests conducted by Coroner O’Connor last year were without a jury. (At most inquests there is no jury and the coroner decides the conclusion on their own. However, occasionally a jury is needed).

Commenting over the weekend Coroner O’Connor said the statistics show a significantly higher death rate in his district last year.

“The number of deaths reported to me in 2022 increased quite significantly from the previous year and indeed the previous years.

“It was the largest number of deaths reported to me and the largest number of inquests I held in my 33 years as a coroner”.

Mr. O’Connor said, however, that it should be borne in mind that in his first 28 years as a coroner (District of East Mayo) he had coronial responsibilities for a much smaller area.

Asked for an opinion on the cause or causes of the higher death rate said that perhaps it was due to more older people dying.

On the question of whether Covid was a factor, Mr. O’Connor replied: “There wasn’t any significant increase (in deaths) as a result of Covid.

“People who died had by and large other underlying medical conditions.

“If they didn’t die with Covid they would have died from something else maybe pneumonia, or cancer or a heart condition.

“But the bottom line is that Covid is not a significant factor in those deaths”.

A general rise in the Republic’s death rate is causing concern amongst chief medical officers.