Many years ago, when I was the Sinn Féin justice spokesperson, I met Lucia and Jim O’Farrell for the first time. Lucia took a framed photograph of her beloved son with her, which was set up on the table during the meeting. I have been a public representative for about 21 years. In all those years, I have rarely seen somebody so impacted by an injustice. The darkness that was brought into this beautiful family was absolutely profound. They are a hard-working Irish family who have never done a thing wrong in their lives, but their beloved son was mowed down by a man who was a criminal on multiple occasions in multiple jurisdictions. Those in the justice system did not talk to one another. The Garda and the PSNI did not talk to each other. It is suspected that this individual was a Garda informer. There has to be some explanation for how in God’s name all of this was allowed to happen and of the circumstances that led, when he was cycling near to his home on that summer evening, to Shane O’Farrell being mown down.
I join Deputy McGuinness in expressing my absolute outrage at the suggestion that Shane O’Farrell was responsible for his own death. God almighty. Has not enough injury been caused to this family without suggesting that the Road Safety Authority guidelines for cyclists should have been adhered to? I challenge anybody to walk around the streets of this city, watch cyclists go around this city and, if one of them was knocked down, to straight away say that as the cyclist did not technically adhere to the Road Safety Authority guidelines, he or she is responsible for his or her own death. This cannot stand. It cannot stand that we have a scoping exercise instead of a public inquiry. Both Houses have spoken and called for a public inquiry because the circumstances are so egregious and of such deep concern to every right-thinking citizen that such an inquiry is what is required. Instead, we have had a scoping exercise that has dragged on for years and has caused huge offence to the family because it stated Shane O’Farrell did not have a light on the back of his bike, as Deputy McGuinness said. Sweet God almighty.
All of us have an average level of intelligence. We can figure out for ourselves that there has been a profound injustice, in that this person should never have been unleashed in our community. He should have been behind bars. The justice system failed profoundly in that people in it did not talk to each other. However, it might even be worse. This person may have been protected. This person may have been an informer of this State. As for this person, who inflicted this unbelievable pain on this beautiful Irish family, this may have been covered up. That is why we need a public inquiry. Nothing else will do. This outrage of a report, the so-called scoping exercise, has to be thrown in the bin and the will of the Houses has to be implemented.