I compliment the O’Farrell family for their dignity and determination to find the truth about what happened to Shane and the lead up to those events. Having met Lucia, Hannah, Gemma and the rest of the family a number of times, I know the depth of their knowledge and insight is matched only by their commitment to their quest for justice.
Last week, we attended a cross-party briefing facilitated by Deputy Carthy. Taken alone, many of the issues raised at that meeting pertaining to this case may not have been enough to call for an inquiry but taken together, the whole issue needs an inquiry to address the various issues properly. The perfect storm that led to the death of Shane could happen again. That is not good enough.
We have the issue of the Courts Service error, which meant that Mr. Gridziuska did not serve one of the sentences for which he was convicted and there were clearly failings that meant the appeal was not heard. In fact, he received two prison sentences which he never served. There were also failings in respect of the conduct of the Garda and questions about its relationship with Mr. Gridziuska. I heard the Minister say that the Garda co-operated with the scoping exercise but questions over that relationship have not been answered properly. Why did gardaí stop Mr. Gridziuska an hour before Shane died? Why did they not act on the command made to the State by Judge O’Hagan that if Mr. Gridziuska were to get into any more trouble, he was to be brought back before him immediately? Why did all of that not happen? An inquiry is the only place those questions can be answered.
An inquiry should also look into the circumstances and events surrounding his death, given the many issues involved. The functioning of the bail system must, of course, be a particular focus. I do not believe that the scoping report satisfactorily covered that matter. I am not calling for new legislation in respect of bail but it is clear that when someone like Judge O’Hagan specifically asks for a defendant to be brought before him if there were to be reoffending, and there was a lot of reoffending in this case, there is something wrong with the system. Mr. Gridziuska was on bail from various courts, including Ardee, Carrickmacross, Monaghan and Newry. No one seemed to be in control of the procedures and managing them in the proper way. That should be looked into by any inquiry in order to prevent it happening to another family.
The raft of reoffending and the lack of oversight tally with what Lucia says. There are clear problems with the granting of bail and its revocation and they need to be addressed. I agree 100% with that.
We are currently living in a worrying time with regard to road traffic offences, given what has happened over recent weeks and months. The number of deaths and injuries has been increasing. There has been commentary on the lack of consequences for people who have offended. It is hard to go back to those people and tell them they are wrong when there do not seem to have been adequate consequences, particularly in this case.
There are other issues with section 101 of the Garda Síochána Act that do not allow a family to have access to the investigation. Perhaps that issue could be looked at. Statements to the coroner are another issue. Ultimately, I support the O’Farrell family. I feel the scoping exercise has investigated but has not provided all the answers to the family. We hope no other family will have to go through such an experience.