Wednesday, 13 February 2019
Death of Shane O'Farrell: Motion
The motion on the death of Shane O'Farrell is to be brought to a conclusion after one hour. Spokespersons have six minutes and other Senators have three minutes. The Minister will have six minutes and the Senator moving the motion will have three minutes and a reply.
I invite Senator Norris from the Technical Group to move the motion.
That Seanad Éireann:
notes that: - on 2nd August, 2011, Shane O'Farrell was killed while cycling home when he was struck by a car driven by Zigimantas Gradzuiska;
- previously, on 11th January, 2011, in Monaghan Circuit Court, Mr. Zigimantas Gradzuiska was convicted of theft, and his sentence was adjourned for one year, with the judge stating that if he was convicted of other theft or fraud offences he was to be brought back before the court and that he would be put in jail;
- on 9th May, 2011, in Ardee District Court, Mr. Gradzuiska was convicted of theft, yet was not then brought back before Monaghan Circuit Court where a prison sentence would have been activated;
- on 11th May, 2011, in Dundalk District Court, Mr. Gradzuiska was convicted of speeding;
- on 8th June, 2011, in Carrickmacross District Court, Mr. Gradzuiska was convicted of possession of heroin;
- on 14th July, 2011, in Newry, Mr. Gradzuiska was convicted of theft;
- on 25th July, 2011, in Monaghan District Court, Mr. Gradzuiska was convicted of having no tax disc;
- all of these offences constituted a breach by Mr. Gradzuiska of his bail bond, yet no steps were taken to revoke the bail granted to him;
- consequently, at the time of the collision, Mr. Gradzuiska was on bail in respect of a number of offences and had breached his bail bond, and was serving a number of suspended sentences which should have been activated had the courts been informed of the relevant previous convictions;
- approximately one hour prior to the collision, the car in which Mr. Gradzuiska was travelling was stopped by Gardaí and was noted to be unroadworthy and without a National Car Test certificate; and
- in January 2012, a complaint was made to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) regarding the conduct and role of An Garda Síochána in the above matters, and a report into part of the complaints was published in April 2018; recognises that: - there is an obligation on An Garda Síochána to bring persons convicted of criminal offences, while serving suspended sentences, before the court 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 such member to bring that breach to the attention of the court;
- there is an obligation on GSOC to properly investigate all complaints it receives and to determine all admissible complaints in a timely and expeditious fashion;
- the GSOC report was delivered in a timeframe that was not acceptable, and was ultimately deficient;
- this case involved multiple failures on the part of several justice agencies of the State, resulting in Mr. Gradzuiska being at liberty on the date of the death of Shane O’Farrell; and
- that it is now necessary to have the actions of An Garda Síochána, the Director of Public Prosecutions, GSOC, and the Courts Service examined in order to establish the truth as to how such failures took place, including the information sharing systems as between those agencies; and calls on the Government to: - immediately establish a Public Inquiry into the death of Shane O’Farrell; and
- ensure that adequate information systems exist within the Courts Service, so that courts can immediately access information in respect of sentences imposed or orders made on persons previously convicted of offences.”
I welcome the Minister for Justice and Equality to the House. This is a tragic case in which I have been involved over many years. The file is so big it was too big to bring into the Seanad. I have had so much correspondence over nearly seven years.
I first want to pay tribute to Shane's family. His mother and his sister are in the Public Gallery today. Without Lucia O'Farrell we would not be at this stage. She has persistently pursued this case on behalf of her son. I never had the pleasure of meeting Shane O'Farrell but Lucia sent me a photograph of him, which I got today. Shane was an extraordinarily vital young man who was full of life. That life was snatched away by a Lithuanian drug addict. It is quite extraordinary to think that a young man who was so alive was destroyed in this way.
A motion was put forward in the Dáil by Deputy Jim O'Callaghan that summarised some of Zigimantas Gridziuska's convictions. It stated:
— previously, on 11th January, 2011, in Monaghan Circuit Court, Mr. Gradzuiska was convicted of theft, and his sentence was adjourned for one year, with the judge stating that if he was convicted of other theft or fraud offences he was to be brought back before the court and that he would be put in jail;
— on 9th May, 2011, in Ardee District Court, Mr. Gradzuiska was convicted of theft yet was not then brought back before Monaghan Circuit Court where a prison sentence would have been activated;
If Zigimantas Gridziuska had been in prison he could not have killed Shane. Deputy O'Callaghan's motion continued:
— on 11th May, 2011, in Dundalk District Court, Mr. Gradzuiska was convicted of speeding;
— on 8th June, 2011, in Carrickmacross District Court, Mr. Gradzuiska was convicted of possession of heroin;
— on 14th July, 2011, in Newry, Mr. Gradzuiska was convicted of theft;
— on 25th July, 2011, in Monaghan District Court, Mr. Gradzuiska was convicted of having no tax disc;
— all of these offences constituted a breach by Mr. Gradzuiska of his bail bond, yet no steps were taken to revoke the bail granted to him;
— consequently, at the time of the collision, Mr. Gradzuiska was on bail in respect of a number of offences and had breached his bail bond, and was serving a number of suspended sentences which should have been activated had the courts been informed of the relevant previous convictions;
— approximately one hour prior to the collision, the car in which Mr. Gradzuiska was travelling was stopped by Gardaí and was noted to be unroadworthy and without a National Car Test certificate;
Zigimantas Gridziuska was allowed to continue, and after all of this when he eventually went to trial, he was let off. There was no penalty whatever imposed on him: he was just sent back to Lithuania.
This has been going on for seven and a half years. There have been a number of different inquiries. With regard to our motion today, I was told by the Leader that the Minister would not be available. The Minister then stood up in the House and said he was anxious to be here and that he would be here. The next thing that happened was the Government said he could not because it had not made a decision - or at least this is what I have been informed of by the Leader. However, here the Minister is today-----
I have addressed the Acting Chairman.
Shane O'Farrell's family are not satisfied with the present situation. I have been in touch with the family and they have said the Minister has not complied with the vote in the Dáil that was taken eight months ago. Instead, the Minister had put something else in place that he should not have. This is the family's view. The Minister has not complied with what that House had already decided. Since that vote eight months ago the family has discovered that two statements given by Zigimantas Gridziuska were altered by the Garda for the inquest into Shane's horrific death. This is most extraordinary. Left out was reference to his heroin problem. Those statements were not redacted: they were completely removed and the sentences joined up. These incomplete statements would only have been noticed if compared with the original statements. It is very much in the public interest that there would be a public inquiry in line with what the other House has already decided. The ongoing delay is disrespectful to Shane and his family and to the many Deputies who voted for a public inquiry. The Minister must respect the vote.
There has been an awful lot of shilly-shallying, even on yesterday's Order of Business. I had the numbers to push this through yesterday and win the vote. I sincerely hope I do it today. Yesterday I suggested an amendment to the Order of Business that this motion be taken immediately after the Order of Business, but I was interrupted. In the confusion the Cathaoirleach said it was after No. 2. That was not what I had said. Later in the debate I said very clearly that I wanted the motion taken immediately after the Order of Business. That was frustrated. I sincerely hope that we will get to vote today and that we will win the vote today. I would have won it yesterday. If we do not win it today I will certainly not stop pursuing this matter and pursing justice for the O'Farrell family whose courage has been quite extraordinary. They have stood up to Government obfuscation, to delays in the courts, to misinformation before the courts and to alteration of documents by the Garda. It would be an heroic struggle. I am extremely grateful to my colleagues for being here to support this motion and I very much hope we win the vote later this afternoon.
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.
I welcome Mrs. O'Farrell and her daughter and commend their steadfast determination to get justice. I am glad to say that the Government will not be opposing this motion today. I have no doubt that the Minister will outline his reasoning for that. We would not want to do so anyway because we always want to do what is right and support people in their pursuit of justice. We are in government and there are certain processes and procedures that have to be followed that the Minister will outline. It would not be right for this Chamber to divide on something so important and sensitive. Bearing in mind what has already been said about Shane O'Farrell, I am a graduate of UCD. Somebody who had so much to offer, and as quite eloquently put by Senator Boyhan, who was studying the law lost his life because of others who were not abiding by it. I reiterate what has been said about the O'Farrell family's bravery and determination.
It is very telling that Senator Norris talked about people whose lives are fulfilled today as a result of Shane O'Farrell's interventions. That is the type of character we are speaking about and whose memory we are honouring and respecting. I have nothing further to add because the Minister will give a comprehensive response in due course.
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.
Cuirim fáilte roimh an Aire. I thank him for taking the time to be with us today. I also thank Senator Norris for his doggedness in ensuring this motion was heard today. As I reflected on the sentiments expressed by previous speakers, the facts of this case and the presence in the Chamber of members of Shane O'Farrell's family, it struck me that Senator Norris should not have had to do that. I do not say this to be combative or confrontational. Given the courage and dignity shown by Shane O'Farrell's family, we feel compelled each time we talk about this case to commend the stance of the family. However, we should not have to do that either. The family does not want to be here and they do not want to be involved in this awful situation. They have had the great trauma, hurt and pain of Shane's loss inflicted on them and they have to face the added indignity and injustice of the failure to adequately deal with the circumstances relating to Shane's death.
I reassert and reaffirm my party's support for a public inquiry. I plead with the Minister who I have no doubt engages with the issue in good faith. I am also conscious that we are dealing with a family and every time they have to re-engage with this issue and lobby and campaign for their basic right and entitlement to have the criminal manner in which they lost their son properly investigated, they are traumatised again. There is a part of me that is ashamed that we have to add to that trauma every time we speak on this issue, although I wholeheartedly accept that none of us intend that. That is the reality, however, when we fail to bring about the proper mechanisms and the full public inquiry sought by the family and the majority of Members of these Houses. As has been noted, the Dáil voted for and demands a full public inquiry and, critically, the family are entitled to it. I hope it is initiated without further delay and additional trauma and pain for the family because nothing will take away the pain the family have felt. I hope the truth and full circumstances relating to Shane's untimely death are brought to the fore.
I acknowledge the presence of Lucia O'Farrell and her daughter. I am also mindful of James O'Farrell and the other daughters who are not here today. I thank Senators Norris and Boyhan for giving us the opportunity to bring the Minister into the House to discuss this matter. Seven and a half years is far too long. We need a public statutory inquiry now and I hope the Minister will give us a timescale for that. What is being covered up and why? What stands out most are the layers of injustice - the injustice of Shane's death and the injustice of not getting the truth. The two most powerful things here today are the love of a mother for her son and the tenacity the family has shown to get the truth for Shane O'Farrell. I hope the Minister will give us the answers that we need.
I welcome the Minister, Mrs. Lucia O'Farrell and her family. I offer again my condolences on the tragic death of their son and brother, Shane, on 2 August 2011. Shane and the family have a long connection with the law school in Trinity College. As a Trinity Senator, I pay tribute to my colleague, Senator Norris, who has campaigned so hard and doggedly to ensure justice for them as a family and have this motion heard today. He persisted against the odds on that. I commend him on that and offer my support and that of my Labour Party colleagues for the motion. I am glad Senator Conway said he Government will not oppose the motion.
Those are very welcome words and I commend the Minister on accepting the motion, as I understand he will. We all await his comments.
We need clarification about the timeframe for the implementation of the motion and precisely how it is proposed to go about the establishment of the public inquiry called for. The details of the case are well known. We had a debate on the issue eight months ago in this House. I spoke at length, as did others, and set out the details which are also set out in the motion. It is worth noting the litany of failings following the tragic death in August 2011. There were failings of communication within and between the different courts and justice agencies in this jurisdiction, as well as failings on a cross-Border basis between the courts and judicial authorities in the North and the South of the island. Those failings of communication need to be investigated to ensure that we do not see any other families being failed by the system in the way the O'Farrell family have been.
The motion that so many of us support not only calls for the immediate establishment of a public inquiry into Shane O'Farrell's death, but also calls on the Government to make sure that adequate information systems exist within the Courts Service to enable courts to immediately access information on sentences imposed or orders made on persons previously convicted of offences. That is an important point to highlight. We all want to ensure that no other family will suffer in this way and that mechanisms are put in place to ensure there is a sufficient exchange of information between courts and policing agencies, both in this jurisdiction and between this jurisdiction and the North, to ensure courts are fully seised of all circumstances when a case comes before them, whereas in this case, they should have been aware of much more information that they were not aware of.
I welcome the Minister's commitment to the motion. When he spoke in response to our previous debate eight months ago, he said he would reflect on what we said and the fact that the Dáil voted on 14 June 2018 in support of a public inquiry. An inquiry is long overdue. My party leader, Deputy Howlin, called some years ago for the initiation of a scoping inquiry into Shane O'Farrell's death. I know that was recently announced, under District Court judge Gerard Haughton, but if a scoping inquiry had been established years ago, we would have seen a public inquiry set up in a much more timely fashion. I am taken by an article by Michael Clifford published on 7 February in which he clearly set out the grounds for bypassing the scoping exercise and ensuring the holding of a commission of investigation into this issue. He also set out the compelling body of evidence which points towards repeated and serious failures in the criminal justice system, leading to a young man's tragic death. I urge colleagues to support the motion.
I welcome Mrs. O'Farrell and her daughter to the Gallery and thank them for being here. It is important to recognise that the Minister intimated quite early on, on behalf of Government, that he would not oppose the motion.Senator Norris needs to reflect upon his contribution regarding the logistics of yesterday. It is quite disappointing to hear the picture painted by the Senator. When he asked me on the Order of Business yesterday about the motion, I was amenable to having it taken today. I could not give a commitment yesterday because Government had not made a decision regarding the motion. I cannot speak on behalf of Government in terms of a decision by it on a motion. The Senator needs to reflect upon his contribution and what he said this afternoon and yesterday on that because-----
I am doing that as Leader of the House, notwithstanding the grave injustices to the O'Farrell family, which is what this motion is about, and the tragedy and the anguish they have gone through and are still going through. I commend them on their bravery, perseverance and integrity. That is what we must at all times keep at the forefront of what we are about today and in the future.
I thank the Minister for Justice and Equality for coming into the House today, for making himself available to us, and for changing his schedule. I appreciate that, in sincerity, because it is easy to table motions on the Order Paper and expect Ministers to change their schedules quickly.
In saying that, I lend my support to the need to have justice given to Shane O'Farrell and his family. I think all of us, in reading about this case and reading about his tragic loss of life, recognise that notwithstanding the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, GSOC, inquiry, we have a scoping exercise, and I wish Judge Haughton well in that. Everything that we do must be about justice, truth and accountability.
Let me start by saying that the Government is not opposing the motion before us. However, I will have a number of things to say about it in the matter of the terms of the motion itself because these terms do raise issues that have potential constitutional and statutory consequences of which I hope Seanadóirí are mindful. I will come back to that shortly.
I want to recall, as Senator Bacik has said, that I spoke in this House last summer about the tragic death of a young man at a point where his life looked so promising. Shane O'Farrell was obviously a much loved son and brother. His death has clearly been devastating for his family to whom, once again, I extend my condolences. My statement in this House at the time followed the completion by GSOC of its criminal investigation into complaints made by the family of Shane O'Farrell. Indeed, GSOC had also included in its investigation a number of matters referred to it by a previous Minister for Justice and Equality. Members will appreciate that the criminal investigation took some time and I recognise that this was a cause of great frustration. However, it is important to acknowledge the very serious nature of a criminal investigation and the requirement that any such investigation be carried out with great diligence and care.
GSOC completed its first report last year and found there were no grounds for criminal proceedings against any member of the Garda Síochána. However, the report identified conduct that might lead to disciplinary proceedings and GSOC therefore commenced a disciplinary investigation into that conduct. I will return to the outcome of that investigation momentarily.
During my statement in this House last June I also stated that there were a number of failings in the period leading up to the road traffic incident in which Shane O'Farrell lost his young life. These were clearly set out in the GSOC report following the conclusion of its criminal investigation. A man who had numerous previous convictions and who was on bail at the time of the incident had also been arrested for other offences while on bail. Indeed, tragically, the actions of the gardaí fell short of what should have happened where a person is on bail or remand and is subsequently arrested for other offences, and that is what GSOC has been investigating over the period since then.
A few short weeks ago, at the end of January, I was informed by GSOC that its disciplinary investigation is now complete. A report has been sent to the Garda Commissioner which recommended certain actions. I have not been furnished with a copy of the report but I have been informed that GSOC has recommended that disciplinary action be taken against three members of An Garda Síochána. I understand the Garda Commissioner is examining that report in detail, and I would note that under the Garda Síochána Act 2005, this is a matter entirely for the Garda Commissioner alone to decide on the matter.
As Minister for Justice and Equality, I am particularly mindful of the independence of GSOC. My responsibility is not to do anything in any manner or means that may be interpreted as undermining its work. Accordingly, when the Dáil passed its motion last June, I began examining how I could give effect to the intention of that House without undermining the work of GSOC. My officials began to explore options with the Attorney General. I was notified at the end of January that GSOC had completed both its investigations into this case and this allowed me to proceed with steps to resolve the outstanding issues in the case.
At the very earliest opportunity, I appointed a respected and very experienced former judge of the District Court, Judge Gerard Haughton, to carry out a scoping exercise into a number of matters surrounding the circumstances leading to the death of Shane O'Farrell. As the House will be well aware, scoping exercises have been carried out in the past prior to the establishment of major inquiries or tribunals of inquiry. It is good governance to allow a scoping exercise by a legal expert to determine the net issues that require examination.
In this case, Judge Gerard Haughton has been asked by me to review the investigations that have taken place into the circumstances of the death of Shane O'Farrell, including the criminal prosecution arising from the road traffic incident, the independent review mechanism examination of the case, and the investigations by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission. His scoping exercise will also review changes that have been made to the law and practice relating to the administration of bail and bench warrants, and the extent to which they have or have not addressed gaps in those systems since the death of Shane O'Farrell.
Following his review, Judge Haughton will advise me on any remaining unanswered questions which should be the subject of further inquiry or investigation and the most appropriate manner in which they should be investigated. I ask Senators to appreciate that I must have regard to the constitutional independence of the courts and the statutory independence of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Garda Síochána and the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission.
I met Mr. and Mrs. O'Farrell and three of their daughters last week to outline my proposals to them. I acknowledge that they objected to the process of a scoping exercise. They did agree, however, to consider the proposed terms of reference and to engage with Judge Haughton on the terms of reference. I very much thank them for that. I have since written to Judge Haughton and asked him to contact the family early to commence that very important engagement.
I am very much aware of the extensive research carried out by the O'Farrell family into issues surrounding the case and I have asked them to make that research available to Judge Haughton. I hope this House will appreciate why I do not wish to say anything further about the process to allow Judge Haughton and the family as much latitude as possible on these issues.
Turning briefly to the terms of reference for the motion itself, I note that the motion is identical to one passed by the Dáil last June. While I have said that the Government is not opposing the motion, it is important that I point out a number of difficulties that may arise in trying to give effect to it. The motion calls for the public inquiry to examine the actions of An Garda Síochána, the Director of Public Prosecutions, GSOC and the Courts Service. I am sure that members of this House are very much aware of the constitutional and statutory provisions governing the functioning of these very important organs of the State.
The investigation of a suspected criminal offence is, with some exceptions, a matter for An Garda Síochána. Where there are alleged failings in this regard, one course of action available, under the Garda Síochána Act of 2005, is for GSOC to investigate. In this case GSOC has carried out two investigations - a criminal investigation and a disciplinary investigation.In respect of the former, it was deemed that there was no criminality. In respect of the latter, the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission has recommended that disciplinary action be taken against three member of An Garda Síochána. The motion proposes that the actions of the gardaí which have been examined by GSOC be examined again in another forum. This is being proposed without sight of the most recent and final report of GSOC on the case. I am sure Senators will agree that this is an unusual course of action.
Legal difficulties arise with the proposals made in the motion in respect of the courts which are independent under the Constitution, as well as the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and GSOC, both of which are independent under the law. I submit that the House must have regard to the separation of powers under the Constitution where the courts are concerned. Where the Director of Public Prosecutions is concerned, the law has specifically been designed to prevent inappropriate interference with the office where prosecutorial decisions are concerned. On the face of it, the motion is in conflict with the law governing the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. Likewise, I need not advise Members that GSOC is statutorily independent. There is provision in section 109 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 for a senior judge to be appointed to inquire into the actions of a GSOC-designated officer. However, to my knowledge, there is no suggestion that any designated officer involved in the investigation of complaints made by the family of Shane O'Farrell has behaved in a manner that justifies invoking that section.
I am coming towards the conclusion of my remarks, but I am keen to have unanswered questions arising from the case examined and reported on. To that end, I have commenced a scoping exercise to assist me in that regard. When I receive the report of Judge Haughton, I will be in a position to make a further decision on whether to take the matter forward. I ask Senators to be supportive of Judge Haughton as he goes about his sensitive and important work. I reiterate that the Government is not opposing the motion because we, too, wish to see questions answered to the satisfaction of the O'Farrell family. I thank Senators for giving me the opportunity to set out how I propose to proceed in this tragic case.
I am glad that the Government is not opposing the motion. That means that both Houses of the Oireachtas will have passed a motion calling for the establishment of an inquiry. It is time such an inquiry was set in motion. I do not think we need to wait for Judge Haughton to report. The Minister said: "I appointed a respected and very experienced former judge of the District Court, Judge Gerard Haughton, to carry out a scoping exercise into a number of matters surrounding the circumstances..." He also said: "As the House will be well aware, scoping exercises have been carried out in the past prior to the establishment of major inquiries or tribunals." They have, but I draw the Minister's attention to the fact that such scoping inquiries have been bypassed on a significant number of occasions. Michael Clifford points to several in his article. In June last year the Government set up a commission of investigation into the crimes of Bill Kenneally, the former sports coach who had been convicted of a number of child sex abuse offences. There is major concern that he appeared to be in a position to act with impunity for years. This is another criminal matter where, without a scoping inquiry, the Government established a commission; obviously, therefore, there is no problem with it. There could not possibly be because the Government has already done it. That is the answer.
There is the question of the independence of the courts and the statutory independence of the Director of Public Prosecutions, An Garda Síochána and the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission. I do not believe for one second that the independence of these bodies would be undermined by the establishment of a public inquiry. Far from it, I believe it would be strengthened. The motion calls for the commission of public inquiry to examine the actions of An Garda Síochána, the Director of Public Prosecutions, GSOC and the Courts Service. The Minister said he imagined that Members were well aware of the constitutional and statutory provisions governing the functions of these important organs of State. We are, but we do not see any conflict in that regard.
The Minister says the investigation of suspected criminal offences is, with some exceptions, a matter for An Garda Síochána. Of course, these are matters for it, but this case has been looked at and facts have been established. There is no question whatever about Gridziuska's guilt. He is guilty not only of the unlawful killing of Shane O'Farrell but also of drug, motoring, drink and theft offences. There is a vast catalogue of offences. He is as guilty as hell and there is no question of a Garda inquiry into his behaviour being undermined.
I call for the motion to be passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas, in other words, the full Parliament of Ireland, to have a public inquiry established. We are looking for this to happen without delay and that is what the O'Farrell family have come to the House today to see. They seek justice for their son and want to see an end to this in order that they can go on with their lives. With the full support of both Houses of the Oireachtas, the time has come to have a full public inquiry.