Shane O’Farrell from Carrickmacross was tragically knocked down and killed while cycling near his home in Carrickmacross on 2 August 2011. He was aged 23 and had just completed his final year law exams. The driver, Zigimantas Gridziuska, should have been in prison at the time, and since then the O’Farrell family has campaigned tirelessly to uncover all of the facts concerning the circumstances surrounding his tragic death. It has to be said that the State and its institutions did not make this task easy for them, and they have been treated badly.
The Department of Justice eventually established a scoping exercise which was carried out by Judge Gerard Haughton. The report took over three years to finalise and it was eventually published in July. The O’Farrell family are deeply disappointed with the report. They believe it is incomplete and inaccurate, and I am in agreement with many of the points they have made about it since then. They believe the report does not deal with all of the matters included in the terms of reference and they point out that it did not consider the GSOC reports or the independent review mechanism report. They are disappointed that there appears to be victim blaming and that it could be interpreted that Shane was the guilty party. The report also makes findings which have not been tested the way they would be in a commission of investigation, which is the point Deputy Ó Ríordáin made.
The Dáil and Seanad have already voted to establish an independent statutory public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of Shane O’Farrell. It would be in the public interest to examine the systems and procedures for the sharing of information between the Garda, the Courts Service and other relevant State bodies in the context of this case. The functioning of the criminal justice system as regards bail needs comprehensive examination, given the widespread failures highlighted by this case. Most people, if they were aware of the full details of this case, would be shocked by it. The family is also requesting details of all communications between the Department of Justice and the scoping inquiry before, during and after the publication of the report, and their request in this regard should be facilitated.
The concerns raised by the O’Farrell family on this report need to be addressed and the family needs to be listened to. I urge the Minister to do this and to urgently address these matters. Otherwise these questions will continue to arise and these events and the case will not simply go away.