Statement in Dáil Éireann by Brendan Smith T.D. during Fianna Fáil Private Members Motion – Tuesday, 12 June 2018
Like all other members, I again convey my sincere sympathy to the O’Farrell family on the tragic loss of Shane. I do not have the words to describe adequately the immeasurable loss to the O’Farrell family of Shane’s passing. He was a much loved son and brother. The local community in Carrickmacross holds the O’Farrell family in high esteem and Shane’s unuimely passing and tragic death is a source of great regret locally throughout the community.
The O’Farrell family has been failed by the State. This Fianna Fáil motion calls for the establishment of a commission of investigation into Shane’s death. It is a basic right that justice be done and the appropriate public inquiry process is needed. The motion refers to the litany of convictions handed down to Zigimantas Gradzuiska – 42 in courts North and South. It was an appalling failure of the justice system that this person was free and driving a car, causing Shane’s death in a hit-and-run accident. This individual was known to An Garda Síochána, the PSNI and Interpol, and no wonder given he had more than 40 previous convictions for a variety of serious offences. It is appalling that such a convicted person was not in prison.
I did not have the opportunity to contribute to the statements on Shane’s death in this House at the end of May as I was at that time chairing a meeting of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Defence. I know from reading the transcript of that debate, however, that my colleagues covered in detail all of the issues that need to be investigated and the need for the establishment of a public inquiry mechanism in this regard. Along with 19 Oireachtas colleagues, I attended the press conference convened by the O’Farrell family on the day prior to those statements. I was glad to stand in solidarity with the family outside our Parliament buildings. At that press conference, Mrs. Lucia O’Farrell again outlined in great detail the dysfunctionality of so many elements of the criminal justice system that led to her son’s tragic death. The dignity of the O’Farrell family shone through again at that press conference when Lucia outlined in forensic detail all of the circumstances leading up to Shane’s untimely death and the cruel failures of the justice system. It has to be so difficult maintaining that fortitude and dignity over so many years in seeking justice.
Earlier, I listened to my colleague, Deputy Breathnach, refer to our discussions on Shane’s tragic death at the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly. Some months ago, Deputies Breathnach, Carey and Fitzpatrick and I raised this issue, with particular reference to the sharing of information between the criminal justice systems North and South and the need for proper cross-Border policing strategies. These systems must be integrated if we are to avoid other tragedies in the future. We wrote to the Department of Justice and Equality and to the Permanent Secretary in the Department of Justice in Northern Ireland. We are always critical of the fact that there is no Executive functioning in Northern Ireland. While we received a reply from the Permanent Secretary in the Northern Ireland Department, to date we have not received a reply from the Department of Justice and Equality. Committee A of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly met last Sunday night in Sligo, at which time I again raised this issue and the clerk to the committee was directed to write again to the Department of Justice and Equality. As Members are aware the assembly consists of Members of the Oireachtas, the House of Commons, the House of Lords and the devolved assemblies of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. It was unanimously requested by the committee that the Department of Justice and Equality reply without further delay to the request put to it many months ago.