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Shane O'Farrell Lucia Farrell
Shane O'Farrell

TD questions whether man responsible for 2011 death of cyclist was a Garda informer

The Dáil heard calls for a public inquiry into the circumstances around the 23 year old’s death.

A SINN FÉIN TD has raised in the Dáil the possibility that the man responsible for the death of a young cyclist in 2011 was a Garda informer.

Cavan-Monaghan deputy Matt Carthy called for an independent public inquiry into the circumstances that led to Shane O’Farrell’s death 12 years ago and the actions of State agencies related to it.

McEntee, who did not respond to the question, said the government had left “no stone unturned” in a report on the case which found that no inquiry was necessary, while recommending changes to bail and suspended sentences legislation.

The case dates back to 2 August 2011 when O’Farrell was cycling home and was struck by a car driven by Zigimantas Gradzuiska near Carrickmacross in Co Monaghan.

Gradzuiska had previous convictions for offences including aggravated burglary, road traffic offences and the handling of stolen property.

In the years since O’Farrell’s death, his family has been asking how Gradzuiska, a repeat offender who was on bail from multiple courts, was at liberty on the day Shane was killed.

The case was raised in the Dáil today, where members of the O’Farrell family were present, by Carthy and People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith.


Carthy alleged that “many members of An Garda Síochána” have arrived at the conclusion that Gradzuiska was an informer for the organisation.

“A crucial question that has not been answered is why this man was in a position to crash into a young Carrickmacross lad, kill him and leave the scene, when he clearly should have been in prison in light of multiple breaches of multiple bail conditions set by multiple courts.

“Every single person who understands these matters that I have spoken to privately, including many members of An Garda Síochána, have arrived at the same theory.

“They believe that Mr Gridziuska must have been a Garda informer. The O’Farrell family has established that there is a file on Mr. Gridziuska in the Garda National Crime, Security and Intelligence Service, but they do not know what is on that file. They deserve to know.”

The TD said that the only way to find out is if Justice Minister Helen McEntee accedes to implementing a 2018 Dáil vote for the establishment of a public inquiry into the case.

In July, the Department of Justice published its 416-page report into the case which concluded there were no circumstances surrounding the death of O’Farrell that warranted further investigation.

Its findings have been challenged by the O’Farrell family.

During his Dáil contribution, Carthy asked McEntee whether Gridziuska was a Garda informer.

Carthy told McEntee that if she cannot answer that question then “she cannot say that the full facts have been established” by the scoping exercise.

He further claimed that the government’s scoping exercise was to “not just delay the truth but act as a barrier” against finding out what happened.

McEntee told the house that she wanted to acknowledge the huge hurt and loss caused by Shane O’Farrell’s death.

Hughton report

She said the report led by Judge Gerard Houghton and commissioned by her department was in light of a huge amount of “controversy, hurt and upset” surrounding the circumstances of O’Farrell’s death.

“Specifically, the purpose of the exercise was to advise the Minister as to whether any further investigation or inquiry beyond those that had been carried out was necessary and, if so, to advise and inform of such investigation or inquiry or its terms of reference,” McEntee said.

“I want to reassure the Deputies that there was no attempt to delay anything or prevent any further inquiry. It is very much open to Judge Haughton to outline if a further inquiry was needed and what the scope and tenure of that would be.”

She said Judge Haughton’s report resulted in a thorough and comprehensive report which McEntee said was a “fair and true” representation of the situation.

“In his report, Judge Haughton concluded there are no circumstances surrounding the death of Mr. Farrell that warrant further investigation or inquiry beyond what has already been carried out. He is very clear on that.

The report made a number of recommendations regarding bail, suspended sentences and legislation, along with amendments to the Road Traffic Act.

‘No further inquiry’

“Whatever changes need to be made are being made. However, it is very clear in this report that it does not warrant a further inquiry, which, at the end of that, will not give us any different answers or leave us in a different position than we are now,” McEntee said.

“I know this is extremely difficult in general and in particular for the family.”

She added: “Judge Haughton is very clear that a further inquiry would not help. The most important thing is that we support and help the family but a further inquiry would not do that.”

In response, Carthy said would “absolutely refute and reject” McEntee’s position on the benefits of a public inquiry.

McEntee told Carthy that the government has “taken action” and said that “no stone was left unturned” in Judge Haughton’s report.

She said she would be willing to discuss and debate the report’s findings in the Dáil with TDs but reiterated the report’s findings that there is “no need for further inquiry” into O’Farrell’s death.

In 2011, Gradzuiska did not remain at the scene of the collision and was arrested later that day.

Two weeks before the collision, he was arrested in Newry for three counts of theft. The day he struck O’Farrell, Gradzuiska was on bail from courts in both Monaghan and Cavan and on a peace bond from Louth Circuit Court. 

He was handed an eight-month sentence for dangerous driving causing death in February 2013 but this was suspended on the basis that he would leave the country within 21 days.