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Shane O'Farrell Lucia O'Farrell
gsoc report

Taoiseach says he's not ruling out a public inquiry into Shane O’Farrell death

On the evening of 2 August 2011, Shane O’Farrell was cycling home when he was struck by a car driven by a man who was on bail for offences in both Cavan and Monaghan.

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has said the government is not ruling out a possible public inquiry into the death of Shane O’Farrell.

On the evening of 2 August 2011, O’Farrell was cycling home when he was struck by a car driven by Zigimantas Gradzuiska. The Lithuanian national had previous convictions for offences including aggravated burglary, road traffic offences and handling stolen property.

Two weeks before the collision, he was arrested in Newry for three counts of theft. The day he struck the 23-year-old with his car,  Gradzuiska was on bail from courts in both Monaghan and Cavan and on a peace bond from Louth Circuit Court.

Shane’s mother, Lucia O’Farrell, and 20 politicians from parties including Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin, have called for a public inquiry into his death.

Fianna Fáil’s Jim O’Callaghan has said had the gardaí been informed of the offence in the North he would not have been out in August in 2011.

“Had the justice system acted efficiently he would have been in jail,” he said.

RTÉ’s Prime Time revealed last night that a constable from the PSNI claims he did speak to the gardaí about Gradzuiska’s criminal record, and a letter was faxed through.

A new report conducted by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC), and due to be published in the coming days, investigated the gardaí’s handling of issues into the case.

A total of 56 allegations were investigated in that report, with the majority being found to be unsubstantiated, according to the Taoiseach today. The family are believed to be unhappy with the report’s findings.

Speaking about the report’s findings in the Dáil today, Leo Varadkar said it finds that no garda conduct has been found to be illegal or in breach of procedures.

Gridziuska did not remain at the scene of the collision, but was arrested later that day. He was handed an eight-month sentence for dangerous driving causing death in February 2013, but it was suspended on the basis that he would leave the country within 21 days.

For seven years, the O’Farrell 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. They also want to know why he did not serve jail time for the incident, and was instead given the option of leaving the country.

Following calls from members of the opposition for a public inquiry to be set up, Varadkar offered his sympathies to the O’Farrell family, who were present in the Dáil public gallery today.

He said it was a “terrible” and “tragic loss”. However, he pointed out that GSOC is an independent body that reviewed the case, and that investigation is now complete.

The Taoiseach said a public inquiry often takes a very long time, and can often not return the outcomes or answers people are seeking.

Fianna Fáil’s Willie O’Dea and John McGuinness were highly critical of the GSOC report today.

O’Dea said called the report “a joke” and said O’Farrell “would be alive if the gardaí had done their job”.

In response to TDs questioning the GSOC report, the Taoiseach said a wider debate might be needed if politicians in the House do not trust the findings of a body independent to the gardaí and government.

The Taoiseach said he is “not ruling out a public inquiry” into the O’Farrell case, but reiterated such an investigation could take “many years”.

A number of TDs have requested that time be set aside to discuss the GSOC report into the garda conduct in relation to the death of O’Farrell.


Responding to the furore, GSOC released a statement clarifying its position.

“As GSOC is conscious that all parties, including gardaí under investigation, have rights, we are not jeopardising the ongoing disciplinary investigation by naming persons who have the right to be heard and offer an explanation for the conduct under investigation.

“When the investigation is completed a report will be forwarded to the Garda Commissioner under s.97 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005.  It will be open then for the Garda Commissioner to consider what action, if any, he thinks appropriate under the Garda Discipline Regulations.

“The decision not to name people in the s.103 Report was made by the Commission so as not to prejudice the current ongoing investigation.”

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