17.10.23 Catherine Murphy – Dail Eireann

17 10 23 Catherine Murphy

Uploaded by Lucia O’Farrell on 2023-10-19.

I also welcome the O’Farrell family to the Gallery. This House voted for a full public inquiry into the circumstances around the death of Shane O’Farrell. The Government decided on a scoping report which has concluded that no public inquiry is to be recommended. While the scoping report was far from a public inquiry, the expectation of most of us in this House was that all of the issues and key reports would be considered fully in the context of this scoping exercise. The terms of reference provided that Judge Haughton would be provided with section 101 and 103 reports from the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, GSOC. The independent review mechanism report was also to be fully considered. The judge was not provided by either report. He did not seek the GSOC section 101 report and the Department refused to waive privilege over the independent review mechanism report. The terms of reference required Judge Haughton to take account of the outcome of the independent review mechanism. The report was provided to him by the family because, as I said, the Department of Justice did not waive privilege. Despite that, the report does not appear to have been considered in the scoping report.

In one of his conclusions, the judge stated it is understandable that the family is aggrieved at not being provided the section 101 GSOC report and that, ultimately, any changes are for the Legislature. This is cold comfort to the O’Farrell family. It might be an issue to which we will come back.

At over 400 pages, this is a lengthy report. There are key questions remaining. If this was a complete report, which is what we expected, why are there still key questions? Those of us who have met the O’Farrell family, and particularly Lucia, Shane’s mother, know that one of the key questions they have asked repeatedly is if the criminal justice system had worked as it was supposed to, would Mr. Gridziuska have been in custody at the time he killed Shane. That shines a light into how the criminal justice system works or does not work. It is at odds with how most people think the criminal justice system works. When someone is ordered, for example, to sign on at a Garda station, most people would expect that to happen. However, that requirement was repeatedly breached. There was no such signature from 4 April until 2 August, the date Shane was killed. What is that supposed to mean? What is the purpose of requiring people to sign on? What is the sanction for not doing it? When a sentence is imposed by the courts, the public expectation is that the sentence will be served, at least in part. In the case of someone appearing in court when he or she is out on bail, it is, according to a report of the Courts Service, the role of the prosecuting authority to bring to the attention of the court any convictions, bail or court orders that the court needs to be aware of prior to reaching a decision on the case before the court. The report goes on to state that the outcomes of District Court cases are transmitted electronically from the Courts Service’s criminal cases tracking system to the Garda PULSE system via the criminal justice interoperability system. Why did that not happen? Was this an isolated case? If it was, it raises questions as to why there was special treatment. Was this man an informer? If he was, he should have been told “No”. If the answer does not come out as bluntly as that, why would we not continue asking that question?

On the evening Shane O’Farrell was killed, Mr. Gridziuska had 34 convictions across three jurisdictions and had been on continuous bail since 28 August 2009. He was on bail for at least six offences and had committed at least 30 offences while on bail, as a result of which he was brought before various District and Circuit Courts on numerous occasions. During those hearings, the judges dealing with the cases were not informed by the gardaí or the prosecution that Mr. Gridziuska was in breach of his bail conditions. Perhaps the most damning was in 2011 when he appeared before the Circuit Court on theft charges. Judge O’Hagan adjourned the case for one year and continued Mr. Gridziuska on bail on condition that he stayed out of trouble and did not commit any further theft offences.

The court said, “If he does get into trouble again, it will come straight before me, anywhere on the Circuit, wherever I may be … I can assure you … if you do mess … up and … get convicted, you will be going to prison; not you might, you will be going to prison.” He committed 11 offences between this order and the killing of Shane O’Farrell and on no occasion did An Garda Síochána return to Judge O’Hagan. Had that happened, he would have been in custody at the time Shane O’Farrell was killed. The O’Farrell family and others have said it here. They have been absolutely forensic in the approach they have taken. Not only is it in the interest of the O’Farrell family that there is a public inquiry but it is also in the public interest. There are so many anomalies and things that did not function. We need to know whether this is an outlier or if other situations like this are occurring.