Seanad debates

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Death of Shane O'Farrell: Motion


10:30 am

Photo of Victor BoyhanVictor Boyhan (Independent) | Oireachtas source

I second the motion. I welcome the Minister to the House and especially welcome Ms O'Farrell and her daughter here today for what must be another painful experience in respect of the loss of her son.

In 2011, Shane O'Farrell, aged 23 and the only son of the O'Farrell family was killed in a horrific hit and run by Mr. Gridziuska who had multiple breaches of bail and should have been in State custody. Shane was studying law while others were breaking it. He had just completed his law degree in UCD and his masters of law at Trinity College Dublin. Eight months ago the Dáil voted in favour of a public inquiry and, to date, no public inquiry has been commenced. That is the kernel of the concerns of the O'Farrell family here today.

It is alleged that there has been Garda interference in this case. I will never use my privilege in this House to make allegations that I cannot personally substantiate but I can say it is alleged that there has been Garda interference and surely that must be investigated. The criminal justice system has let the O'Farrell family down in this case. It is clear there are serious failures in the system and too many questions remain unanswered in this case.

It is paramount that the public has and retains confidence in the working and operations of An Garda Síochána and the criminal justice system and that it is upheld at all costs. There is an obligation on the Garda Síochána to bring persons convicted of criminal offences while serving suspended sentences before the courts, and to inform the sentencing court that the person has been convicted of subsequent offences. Where a member of An Garda Síochána becomes aware that a person has breached or is in breach of a condition of bail there is an obligation on that member to bring that breach to the attention of the court. There is an obligation on the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, GSOC, to properly investigate all complaints it receives and to determine all admissible complaints in a timely and expeditious fashion.

Senator Norris and I are calling on the Government to immediately establish a commission of investigation into the death of Shane O'Farrell. I am aware of the Minister's scoping report, or the mechanism he has put in place to have a scoping inquiry but that is not good enough. This has gone on for too long. The family wants justice. We want confidence to be upheld in the working of An Garda Síochána and in all organs of the State. Therefore, the criminal justice system needs to be examined again in respect of these matters. Lessons have to be learned. There should be nothing less than a full public inquiry; it is what the family wants and it is what Dáil Éireann decided. If Members here today stand together and come into this House and work together we can ensure this happens. It is what the family wants and the family deserves nothing less.


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