A Mayo coroner has disputed the number of deaths reported by Ireland's National Public Health Emergency Team during the last year of the pandemic, claiming that the daily figures may be "inaccurate".
Patrick O'Connor, a solicitor and coroner based in Mayo, said that Ireland's daily reported coronavirus deaths "do not have a scientific basis".
The Irish Government has reported 4,831 deaths linked to the virus since the outbreak of the pandemic and O'Connor, who serves as public information officer for the Coroner's Society of Ireland, said that he questions the accuracy of NPHET's reporting when the virus is recorded as the principal cause of death in terminally ill patients.
He stressed that there was a difference between dying from the virus and dying with it.
"When a person is suffering from a number of medical conditions which will or may lead to their death at some short time in the future, if they are unlucky enough to be infected by the COVID virus then at death if they prove to be COVIDpositive in a test, it is that which is recorded as the principal cause of death — even though that person may have been terminally ill with a short life-expectancy prior to such testing," O'Connor told the Irish Independent.
O'Connor said that he has opened two inquests into the deaths of two people at Mayo University Hospital after they contracted the virus.
He said that the deaths of 17-year-old student Sally Maaz from Ballyhaunis and 79-year-old Ballina resident John Carolan were in the public interest.
"These two inquests are taking place because of the individual circumstances of each person at the time of their death," he told the Irish Independent.
Deaths related to the virus do not generally require an inquest because the illness is considered to be pneumonia and a natural cause of death. However, a coroner can open inquests based on individual circumstances.
Meanwhile, Kildare coroner Dr. Denis Cusack said that 99% of the 230 coronavirus deaths reported in Kildare had underlying conditions - a total of 228 people.
Of those 228 deaths, 132 had a cardiovascular condition, 120 had dementia, 58 had respiratory problems, 36 had cancer, 30 had a neurological condition, 25 had diabetes, and 23 had kidney problems.