Dáil debates

Tuesday, 9 July 2024

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


9:35 pm

Photo of Martin KennyMartin Kenny (Sligo-Leitrim, Sinn Fein)

I welcome Lucia and the O'Farrell family. This is not the first time they have been here. They have been here on many, many occasions. While I was a spokesperson on justice, I dealt with them on many occasions. I did so as well with other families and other situations that have a similar thread running through them. This thread is that in this State when something inappropriate happens, there is a cover-up and a rush to that cover-up. When there is then an opportunity to try to deal with that cover-up, the cover-up is covered up and then covered up again and again. It becomes a layer of deceit and deception. This is what has continued to happen in so many of these cases.

It is and has been my view for some considerable time that the reason for this is there is something very difficult at the core of this situation the State does not want to face. It is that we have an element within our system, certainly within An Garda Síochána, as well as in other aspects of our system, that does not function properly and sometimes functions outside what the law is. This is the problem we have. I have come to a conclusion in this regard. There is an agency within An Garda Síochána, and I am sure the Minister knows about it, although very few people would, called the covert human intelligence source, CHIS, section. This is a section of An Garda Síochána that deals with people prepared to give information. It is set out in legislation and in the rules and regulations as to how this is supposed to happen. One of the things supposed to happen is that when a person is giving information to An Garda Síochána, while they may have been a criminal in the past, they are supposed to abide by the law during that time. During the time when they abide by the law, if they do, they can continue to give information. If they step out of that context, though, they are not supposed to. My understanding from people who have worked near and as a part of this system is that this happens very seldom at all. In fact, in most cases these people continue to go on and act in criminal behaviour.

Now, CHIS is supposed to be regulated and looked after. One of the things said about it is that "The operation of the CHIS system shall be subject to internal oversight by senior Garda management and external oversight by an Independent Oversight Authority appointed by and reporting to the Minister for Justice". I think this is the core of our problem here. The Minister for Justice, her office and her Department do not want to take responsibility for what happened in this case and in other similar cases. We need to get to the core of this matter and deal with it. Once and for all, this State needs to own up that on many, many occasions there have been people who have acted outside the law, that in this case brought about this tragedy for this family, and there has been no accountability because the State has allowed it to happen. This is the core of what we are dealing with here.


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