Seanad debates

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Death of Shane O'Farrell: Motion


10:30 am

Photo of Robbie GallagherRobbie Gallagher (Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I welcome the Minister to the Chamber and acknowledge his taking time out at short notice to be here. I acknowledge Lucia O'Farrell and her daughter who are here today to discuss this important matter. For any mother to lose her son is unnatural and against the grain of life but I can only imagine the heartbreak that goes with losing a son under such circumstances, and that applies to all the O'Farrell family. What compounds that grief is the sense of injustice they feel about the circumstances and the systems failure that resulted in Shane's tragic and unnecessary death on 2 August 2011. Their journey to this point is to be commended. In many ways the family probably has not had an opportunity to grieve Shane's loss properly because they feel an injustice has been done and that they have to right that. They have been on that journey for almost eight years and continue to stay on it. I admire that quality.

I take no pleasure from saying that in many ways the Government has turned its back not just on the O'Farrell family but on Dáil Éireann because our party's justice spokesperson, Deputy O'Callaghan, tabled a proposal which was supported by the majority of Teachtaí Dála, calling for a commission of investigation, a public inquiry, into the circumstances surrounding Shane's tragic death. For the Government to ignore that vote and to ignore the wishes of the O'Farrell family is, to put it mildly, very disappointing. The inquiry to be led by Judge Haughton is to report in eight weeks' time. Being charitable one could say it is progress of a kind but it is not what the family is looking for. I fail to see why the Minister did not proceed with the wishes of the family and of the majority of Teachtaí Dála to go ahead with the commission of investigation into Shane's death. In many ways it compounds the sense of loss and injustice that the O'Farrell family is experiencing.

No words that I or any Member can say here will bring Shane back. All that the O'Farrell family is looking for is someone to shine a light on that systems failure that results in them being here today. This is not a witchhunt for anybody, it is just the family looking for the truth of what happened so that no family in the future will be sitting in the Visitors' Gallery like Mrs. O'Farrell and her daughter for the same reason.It is in the interest not just of the O'Farrell family but of every citizen of this country to have systems in place to ensure nothing like this can ever happen again. That should be the wish and ambition of every Member of this House and I fail to see how anybody would have difficulty with it.

On behalf of Fianna Fáil, I plead with the Minister to proceed with the public inquiry that the family yearns for. They deserve to know what happened and to have closure, time and space to mourn the loss of their son properly. The only way they can do that is with a public inquiry. I do not speak for the O'Farrell family but they will not rest until they get that. I ask the Minister to keep those thoughts in mind and I look forward to his contribution.


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