17.10.23 Mary Lou McDonald, Dail Eireann

17 10 23 Mary Lou McDonald

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

For 12 long years, Lucia and Jim O’Farrell have lived every parent’s worst nightmare. In the summer of 2011, their beloved son, Shane, was left to die on the side of a Carrickmacross road. He had been blown off his bicycle in a hit-and-run incident. A life full of love, promise and potential was cut short. All Shane’s tomorrows were wiped out in the blink of an eye. He was only 23 years of age. It is hard for any of us to imagine what life is like for Jim and Lucia without their son or for his four sisters without their brother. Every day since Shane’s tragic death, they have faced the pain and profound loneliness of the empty chair. It is a trauma that would shake the soul and foundation of any family to its core.
Despite their anguish and for more than a decade, the O’Farrell family has courageously fought for the truth about what happened to Shane. Tonight, I welcome the family to the House and express my admiration for their bravery, endurance and resilience, and for their refusal to abandon justice for their son and brother. I wish them solidarity and strength for the future and for the fight that is as yet unfinished. The O’Farrell family continues to walk a long, hard, painful road and all too often are met with stone walls and silence. Where the State should be facilitating this family to get to the truth, barriers and hurdles are erected time and again and the State has circled the wagons.
As my colleague, Deputy Carthy, stated, it has been alleged for a long time that Zigimantas Gridziuska was a Garda informer. He was a criminal with 42 criminal convictions who should have been in prison when he knocked down Shane and left him to die. Serious questions as to how this man was not behind bars at that time remain unanswered. If he was where he should have been, he would not have hit Shane with his car. Five years ago, the Dáil supported a motion for a public inquiry into Shane’s death. Far from being an avenue to truth, the scoping exercise established by the Government has proven to be yet another barrier. It is crystal clear now – it has always been clear – that the only route to the full truth and full justice for Shane and his family is the full public inquiry this House backed as far back as 2018.
We should not forget that the ultimate responsibility of the State is to protect and vindicate the rights of citizens. On that score, the O’Farrells have been failed time and again. Quite frankly, that needs to be put right so that Shane’s memory can truly finally rest in peace.