Sinn Féin leader & local Deputy raise Shane O’Farrell case with Taoiseach
The Sinn Féin leader, Mary Lou McDonald, and local Dáil Deputy, Matt Carthy, raised the ongoing calls for an independent enquiry into the circumstances of the death of Carrickmacross native, Shane O’Farrell, with Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, in the Dáil last week.
Shane O’Farrell was just 23 when he was killed in a ‘hit and run’ on 2nd August 2011, by Zigimantas Gridziuska, a known criminal who had breached several bail conditions at the time and had 42 previous convictions in three different jurisdictions.
Since his death, his family have sought an independent enquiry as to how and why Zigimantas Gridziuska was at large at the time. Through their efforts, wholescale failures regarding the handling of this case by an Garda Síochána, by the prosecuting solicitor and barrister, by the DPP and by the courts services, have been exposed.
The Dáil and the Seanad have previously adopted resolutions calling for a public enquiry to be established but the previous Fine Gael government instead initiated a scoping enquiry currently being conducted by the respected former judge Gerard Haughton.
Speaking during questions to the Taoiseach last Thursday Sinn Féin leader, Marylou McDonald, said:
“I wish to raise the case of Shane O’Farrell. This December will be the tenth Christmas for the O’Farrell family without Shane. As the Taoiseach will know, the circumstances that led to his death have been very well voiced in the Dáil and Seanad in recent years. In 2018, the Dáil voted in favour of the immediate establishment of a public inquiry into the death of Shane O’Farrell and this was followed by a unanimous vote to the same effect in the Seanad in early 2019.
“Instead of acting on the instruction of both Houses, the previous Fine Gael-led Government announced the establishment of a scoping exercise. Nearly two years have passed, and completion of the final report has been delayed for the fifth time. When announcing the establishment of the scoping exercise the former Minister for Justice and Equality committed to the completion of an interim report within eight weeks on the commencement of the exercise. The family noted that the Guerin report took weeks to complete.
“We are coming up to Christmas. The efforts of the O’Farrell family have been nothing short of heroic. They have the majority support of the Dáil and the Seanad. We need a public inquiry into the death of this young man. We all support that.
“When the Taoiseach was on the Opposition benches, he led the charge in calling for that inquiry. When will we see the outcome of that scoping exercise and when will we have that public inquiry?”
In his remarks, Deputy Matt Carthy said:
“I thank Deputy McDonald for raising the case of Shane O’Farrell and I reinforce her message to the Taoiseach.
“On several occasions, the Taoiseach met Shane’s parents, Lucia and Jim, who are among the most inspirational people one could meet. They are now facing their tenth Christmas without their beloved son, Shane. As Deputy McDonald said, they have been seeking justice for Shane and for the wrongs perpetrated on their family to be addressed. The previous Government announced a scoping inquiry, which has been subject to several delays. The most recent information is that the retired judge intends to complete his report by, I believe, 21 January.
“On behalf of my neighbours, the O’Farrell family, and the wider community in Carrickmacross, I ask the Taoiseach to liaise with the Minister for Justice to ensure that the outcome of the scoping exercise is published and completed by that date in January so that we can move on to the implementation of the resolution of the Dáil and Seanad for a full public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Shane O’Farrell’s death”.
Responding the Taoiseach confirmed that he had met Lucia, Jim and the entire family on a number of occasions. He paid tribute to Deputy John McGuinness, who he said has been with the family on their long journey, and the other Deputies in the House who have raised these issues consistently.
He said: “I have been in touch with the Minister for Justice and I am anxious that the scoping inquiry be brought to a conclusion as quickly as possible, so that we can then take a decision regarding an inquiry in the context of the output of the scoping inquiry, its analysis and recommendations and whatever additional information and guidance it will provide us with”.
Speaking afterwards, Deputy Matt Carthy commented that the O’Farrell family have waited long enough for truth and justice. He confirmed that he would continue to raise this matter until such time as a full independent inquiry was established.