Seanad debates

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business


10:30 am

Photo of Pádraig Mac LochlainnPádraig Mac Lochlainn (Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

I raise a matter of serious importance. In June 2018, the Dáil passed a motion calling for a public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of Shane O'Farrell in Monaghan in August 2011. This House did the same in February 2019. Many of us in these Houses have met the devastated family of Shane O'Farrell and have learned about the shocking set of circumstances and failure of the criminal justice systems, North and South, that led to the failures which culminated in Shane's death.

I met Shane's mother and father not long after his death. I was a Deputy and justice spokesperson for my party at the time. I will never forget the devastation inflicted on that family, particularly his mother, Lucia. This is the quintessential Irish family - decent and hard-working, with parents who urged their children to get the best education they can. Shane was a joy, by all accounts, a fine young man who had just qualified in medicine and was about to travel around the world. He was a dream son who was taken away from his parents. Deaths happen but it is unacceptable when they occur surrounded by absolute failure from those in the justice system.

These Houses voted on this matter and what has happened recently is that rather than grant a public inquiry, the Minister for Justice and Equality asked former Judge Gerard Haughton to put together terms of reference, a scoping exercise. His Department has rejected those terms of reference and narrowed them further. This is absolutely outrageous. This was not only a failure of An Garda Síochána, it was a failure of the court system and a failure of communication, North and South, because the individual responsible for Shane's death had been involved in criminality, North and South, and has been convicted as such.

I appeal for the Minister to be brought before this House, which voted by a majority for a public inquiry, to account for this disgrace and assure us that Judge Haughton will not be held back from his desire to have a proper, fully comprehensive inquiry into the circumstances of Shane's death in order that lessons can be learned and some degree of solace given to the O'Farrell family. I appeal to the Leader to ensure the Minister is brought before this House at the earliest opportunity to account to all of us as to why he has not respected our wishes.


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