17.10.23 Niamh Smyth Dail Eireann

17 10 23 Niamh Smyth

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

I welcome Lucia, Jim and other members of the O’Farrell family to the House. Sadly, they have been here on many occasions previously. The reason we stand here 12 years on from Shane’s death is that this family feel they have not had answers or accountability. Until they have those, they cannot have closure. That is what this House is for – to give the general public confidence in our justice system. This family certainly have not received that yet.

Speaking on behalf of the O’Farrell family, the reason for this discussion is that they feel a fundamental question has not been answered to explain why Mr. Gridziuska was at liberty on 2 August 2011 in circumstances in which, for a period of two years, he repeatedly committed offences while on bail and breached bail conditions imposed upon him in both the District and Circuit Courts and why, despite An Garda Síochána being aware of these breaches, he was still at large to commit a series of offences. Colleagues from different parties and from across the House went through the number of offences this man committed, of which there more than 40. It is worth going through some of those offences because it reveals how shocking it was that this man was still at large, on the roads and in a position where he could cause the death of a bright young man going about his daily exercise in Carrickmacross.

Mr. Gridziuska committed numerous offences and breached bail bonds, having been brought before the court for more than 40 offences. On 11 January 2011, only eight months before Shane was killed, Mr. Gridziuska had been convicted of theft in Monaghan Circuit Court. This sentence was adjourned for one year, with the judge stating that if he was convicted of another theft or fraud offence and he was before him in court again, he would be jailed. This was only eight months before he killed Shane. Some four months earlier, on 9 May 2011, Mr. Gridziuska was convicted of theft. He was not brought back before Monaghan Circuit Court where a prison sentence would have had to have been activated and he would not have been on that road on that awful day in August. Two days later, on 11 May 2011, in the Dundalk Circuit Court, Mr. Gridziuska was convicted of speeding. On 8 June 2011, Mr. Gridziuska was convicted of the possession of heroin in Carrickmacross District Court. On 14 July 2011, Mr. Gridziuska was convicted of theft in Newry and again he was not brought back before Monaghan Circuit Court. On 25 July 2011, Mr. Gridziuska was convicted of not having a tax disc in the Circuit Court in Monaghan. All of these offences should have resulted in his bail being revoked, but no steps were taken to ensure that happened.

The car in which Mr. Gridziuska was travelling was pulled over by An Garda Síochána an hour before he killed Shane. The vehicle had been driven by an uninsured driver and it was not national car test, NCT, certified either. However, rather than seize the car, which I am sure everybody in the House will agree would have been the normal course of events had it been anybody else, Mr. Gridziuska was selected to switch from being the passenger to being the driver. The gardaí failed to consider whether Mr. Gridziuska had valid insurance for the vehicle and to take the opportunity to arrest him for the bail breaches he had collected. As my colleagues have said, Mr. Gridziuska was well known by An Garda Síochána, Interpol and the PSNI and had an extensive criminal record, as has been very well laid out today.

I have met Lucia and Jim and their daughters on a number of occasions. As my colleague, Deputy Lahart, very eloquently put it today, they have done forensic, detailed research and investigation on all of this. I am in awe of what they have done, and had to do, for the sake of their family and to bring justice. They have worked tirelessly to seek justice, which the system should have provided them – they should not have had to work this hard in the first place – for their son and brother. They are to be commended on the courageous and dignified way in which they have done that. All they ask is that we stick to our commitment in the Oireachtas to give them a full public inquiry, accountability and justice.