Our Fianna Fáil Private Members Motion has just been passed in Dáil Éireann calling on the Government to ratify the terms of reference as drafted by Judge Haughton in relation to the investigation/inquiry in to the death of Shane O’Farrell.
Our party spokesperson, Deputy Jim O’Callaghan, outlined very clearly again this evening the absolute need to have an adequate investigation and proper inquiry into the death of Shane O’Farrell. The motion before this House merits the approval of Dáil Éireann. I take this opportunity to convey again my sincere sympathy to the O’Farrell family on the tragic loss of Shane, their son and brother. Shane’s passing is an immeasurable loss to his beloved family. As well as being a much loved son and brother, Shane was a highly respected member of his local community. I know very well that the community in the wider Carrickmacross area, south Monaghan and adjoining counties hold the O’Farrell family in the highest esteem. It is also a source of great regret in south Monaghan and adjoining areas that a young man of Shane’s standing and outstanding ability lost his life in such awful and preventable circumstances.
Unfortunately, the O’Farrell family has been failed by this State and that failure continues today. I was glad to be able to contribute to the previous Fianna Fáil Private Members’ motion on this issue of such importance, not just to the O’Farrell family but to all of us who want to see our criminal justice system do justice to every family and individual in our State. Every right-thinking person wants justice to be done. The terms of reference, as outlined so coherently by Deputy O’Callaghan, are essential to get to the truth. It is truly shocking that it has taken so long to get to the truth in regard to the death of a 23 year old cyclist in a hit-and-run accident quite close to his own home.
Deputies Jim O’Callaghan and Niall Collins, and other Members of the House, spoke earlier of the great dignity of the O’Farrell family in their campaign for justice for their son, Shane. I have heard Shane’s mother, Lucia, speak on national radio and on our local radio in Cavan, Monaghan, Louth and Meath. She has always spoken so eloquently and with such dignity of the awful tragedy that has beset that family and of their quest for the truth. That campaign has been courageous and tenacious, and has commanded the attention, interest, sympathy and empathy of people throughout all of our island.
In the previous Private Members’ motion, we spoke about the need for proper cross-Border policing strategies and the appropriate sharing of information between the criminal justice systems, North and South. None of us wants to see tragedies in the future arising from the dysfunctionality of systems. It is deplorable that such a series of incidents were permitted, causing the death of such a fine young man, son and brother. It is essential, as outlined so eloquently and in detail by Deputies O’Callaghan and Collins, that the terms of reference as drafted by Judge Haughton should be adopted. The terms of reference as they currently stand do not reflect the spirit of the earlier Dáil vote. Those terms of reference would not enable this State to get the full facts in regard to the dysfunctionality of some elements of our criminal justice system.
The work of the O’Farrell family has been tireless in seeking justice for Shane. The State investigation into Shane’s death has failed the family, and it is similar with the prosecution and also the handling of the family’s complaints. This failure will continue if these terms of reference are limited. Curtailing the terms of reference is not acceptable. The scoping exercise process should not be undermined, which is what our motion seeks to prevent.
As we know, the driver who caused Shane’s death would not have been at liberty if the criminal justice system had been functioning properly. That is the sad summation of the entire tragedy surrounding Shane’s loss of life.
I take the opportunity to again commend the O’Farrell family on the great dignity, perseverance and tenacity they have shown in seeking justice and the whole truth regarding the awful and preventable death of their loved Shane.