13.07.23 – Marie Sherlock – Seanad

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Uploaded by None on 2023-07-17.

Turning to the specific issue I came here to raise this morning, I refer to the Judge Haughton scoping exercise into the death of Shane O’Farrell in August 2011. He was killed by a man about whom serious questions have been raised in the context of the failings of the State in respect of its responsibility concerning this man, who had persistently breached his bail conditions having been let out. We could spend an hour detailing the litany of failures on the State’s behalf. We understand that this man was on bail for at least six offences at the time of Shane’s death. This same man had previously committed 30 offences while on bail as a result of various District Court and Circuit Court hearings.

In January 2011, Judge O’Hagan told this man that if he messed up again he would be brought back before the court. Yet he committed 11 more offences between January 2011 and August 2011 before the night on which Shane O’Farrell was killed. We have other accounts of an unmarked Garda car coming across the man who killed Shane O’Farrell an hour before he died. With all this evidence existing, Shane O’Farrell’s family has been undertaking a campaign for 12 years to get justice for their son. The 400-page report from Judge Haughton gives the impression it is comprehensive. What it does, effectively, however, is to blame Shane O’Farrell.

I am a cyclist and have been caught many times on the road at night without high-visibility clothing or lights. It was inadvertent and I never intended it. I take extreme care. From everything in Shane O’Farrell’s character, we know he would also have taken extreme care. Yet the bottom line in the judge’s report is that Shane O’Farrell is to blame for his death. Someone on bail for one offence should not, of course, go to jail. We do not have space in our jail system to take in everybody who commits an offence. The man concerned in this incident, though, was on bail for having committed multiple offences and the Garda system did not pick this up. It is important that we say here today that while we now have the outcome of the scoping exercise undertaken by Judge Haughton, this cannot be the end of the matter. We need justice for Shane O’Farrell and his family.