Dáil debates

Tuesday, 9 July 2024

Inquiry into the death of Shane O'Farrell: Motion [Private Members]


8:15 pm

Photo of John McGuinnessJohn McGuinness (Carlow-Kilkenny, Fianna Fail)

I commend Sinn Féin and Deputy Carthy on tabling this motion in the House again for consideration and debate. It is unusual in that on the previous occasion, Fianna Fáil joined with all others in the House to ensure that the content of the motion was passed and the Minister was asked directly for a public inquiry. Unfortunately, on this occasion, we do not get speaking time. I am using some of the time that the Minister did not use, but there are other colleagues who would also love to say something on this matter. I am sure they would repeat what they said on the last occasion and what Sinn Féin Deputies have said because it is true and is a fact. Anyone who went to the audiovisual room today to listen to the briefing given by Lucia O'Farrell and her family would be absolutely convinced by the facts, the proof and evidence that were presented to us that Deputy Micheál Martin was right when he said that the case reveals "shocking malpractice and dysfunction within the criminal justice system" at all levels. He said that the time for action "is now", but that was a number of years ago. I am repeating that and calling for action in relation to this matter.

A public inquiry is necessary, not just because of Shane O'Farrell and his untimely and terrible death but because we need to have a justice system in place in which we can believe. In spite of Judge Haughton's report, it must be said that a judge can be wrong. A judge may not have looked at all of the facts before him or her. That is a fact, and Lucia O'Farrell has put before the Members of this House evidence that this is the case. This was a scoping exercise and not about bringing forward recommendations or anything else. If democracy is to be served then what this House and Seanad Éireann have called for needs to be put in place. I certainly will not rest and will not back off from calling for a public inquiry. My colleagues in the party who spoke here previously in sincerity will not back off either. I am delighted that Deputies Brendan Smith and O'Connor are here this evening to represent that greater body of support.

I am asking that we would agree with the motion this evening and with what it calls for. I have tabled that motion previously and it has been debated in this House. I have written to the leader of the Opposition, Deputy McDonald, in relation to tabling the motion again. Now that we have it, the question is whether the Minister will put in place terms of reference for a public inquiry into the death of Shane O'Farrell before the general election is called. Will she, once and for all, commend Lucia O'Farrell and her family on the huge body of work they did, which would put Judge Haughton's review into the shade? That work provides evidence and direction on where we need to go to improve the justice system. If we do not do this, on foot of this motion, then we are doing a terrible injustice to the people of this country and to Lucia O'Farrell. In fact, we are betraying them and leading them astray, particularly when one considers the private correspondence supporting a public inquiry written by the then leader of the Opposition, Deputy Micheál Martin.


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