You’ll recall the case of Shane O’Farrell.
The 23-year-old, from Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan, was killed in a hit-and-run by Zigimantus Gridziuska, on August 2, 2011.
Gridziuska was on bail for several offences at the time and was on suspended sentences in the Republic and the North which should have been activated prior to the incident.
He pleaded guilty to failing to stop, report or remain at the scene of the crash and he received an eight-month suspended sentence in on February 28, 2013, on condition that he leave the country within 21 days.
Judge Pat McCartan, at the Circuit Criminal Court in Dublin, gave Gridziuska the choice of serving the with months or leaving the country and he chose the latter.
During the sentencing of Gridzisuka, Shane’s mother Lucia O’Farrell claims Judge McCartan asked if there was anything coming up in the pipeline for Gridziuska and that the State solicitor failed to notify the judge that – over the five months before Gridziuska’s trial – a file had been prepared in relation to insurance fraud charges against Gridziuska.
Ms O’Farrell repeatedly requested for this file to be compiled and completed so that it could be included in the proceedings of the case of dangerous driving causing death. However, it wasn’t.
On March 6, 2013 – just days after he was ordered to leave the State within 21 days – Gridziuska appeared in Carrickmacross District Court for insurance fraud and he was jailed for five months by Judge Sean MacBride in relation to three policies of insurance fraud, one of which covered the day on which Shane was killed. Judge MacBride also banned him from driving for ten years.
Further to this…
GSOC has been carrying out an investigation into Shane’s case for the past two and a half years.
On September 28, 2016, in the Dáil, Fianna Fáil TD Jim O’Callaghan raised Shane’s case and said:
“If the GSOC report comes back, I will be holding her to what I believe should be an agreement that the family deserves an inquiry if the GSOC report indicates there are further matters that merit investigation.”
Further to this, Sinn Fein’s leader Gerry Adams raised Shane’s case during Leaders’ Questions in the Dail today while Shane’s Mrs O’Farrell was in the gallery watching on.
He explained the details of Shane’s case and mentioned that he had given Taoiseach Enda Kenny a file about the case – before the summer recess.
Mr Adams had the following exchange with Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
Gerry Adams: “You might tell me that the Justice Minister has Shane’s case with GSOC but it’s been there four and a half years and no result yet. The case, Ceann Comhairle, is multi-dimensional, shocking and sickening at every turn, it merits a proper statutory investigation, Taoiseach. Will you commit to this please?”
Enda Kenny: “I recall when this accident happened, Deputy Adams. Nothing that I can say or do will bring back Shane O’Farrell and I’m happy to see his mother [Lucia O’Farrell] in the gallery today. I’ve read the file that you gave me. I’ve read the other extensive files that exist in this case. I am aware that there is a civic action against the State and that GSOC have been carrying out an investigation on this. I feel that, that I would like to meet Mrs O’Farrell and hear her story myself. And I will do so from a humanitarian point of view. There are processes that are always followed; nothing will bring back Shane O’Farrell whom I understand was a brilliant young student. So, I know the MInister for Justice answered questions on this recently, I think to Deputy [Jim] O’Callaghan and she indicated, as she had met the family herself, as indeed many have, that she would like to be in a position to have the response of GSOC and that that work was well advanced. Though, as you point out, it’s been going on for quite a while. My understanding from that is that GSOC wish to interview a number of other gardai and that the Minister would be prepared to follow through with whatever the recommendations of GSOC were. This is a very sensitive and sad situation for the O’Farrell family and I’d like to think, that the very least we can do is have every possibility examined so that Mrs O’Farrell, Shane’s mother and his sister, can be an at least, know that the situation was examined in the way that it should be. Thank you for giving me the file which I read and for your question, I’ll make arrangements to meet with Mrs O’Farrell when I have an opportunity.”
Adams: “I thank you, Taoiseach, for your response and I thank you particularly for agreeing to meet with Mrs O’Farrell. This was a young lad, as you say, he was 23, he was a brilliant student at Trinity, he was about to start work at the European Parliament and he was a fluent Irish speaker. He was a gentle, young man with a bright, bright future. And Lucia, and Jim [Shane’s father] have been robbed of their pride and joy. He was their only son. But this case goes beyond his tragic death. It reveals, in my opinion, a series of grievous flaws in the management and response by the justice agencies. There are 59 complaints with GSOC in relation to Shane’s case but nothing to show. Four and a half years later, and this delay is causing ongoing trauma to his family. And I’m sure that you agree that all citizens must have confidence in our justice systems and, of course, all systems have their failings. But we all have a duty to ensure that they are of the very highest standards. As you say, Shane O’Farrell can’t be brought back, but his family can get justice. So I thank you for your reply, I thank you for your agreement, as I’ve said, to meet with Shane’s mother. But Taoiseach, they have asked for a statutory inquiry, will you agree to that? Or, failing that, today will you agree will you make your position known on this issue after you’ve met with Mrs O’Farrell and can you do that as quickly as your busy schedule will allow?”
Kenny: “Yes, I will make my views known and I will arrange to meet Mrs O’Farrell as soon as I have an opportunity. I would say that this is one of over 200 cases where people feel very grievously hurt on a range, a very broad range of issues across many years. And a review panel was set up to look at all these cases including the tragic death of Shane and that consisted of two senior and five junior counsel who are very experienced and the recommendation that they made was to take no further action. Now, I’m not a senior counsel but my job in politics engages me with so many people. I read this file and I will meet Mrs O’Farrell and I will make my views known. I’d like to think that the GSOC inquiry is, you know, practically complete. That’s my understanding. But that’s not of any value to people who say ‘I’ve been waiting for so long without any clarity as to when I’m going to have, I’m going to have a completed document’. The Minister for Justice did say, I’d like to get that, and I’d like to, you know, decide what the best option is arising from that report. I have no input obviously into the civic action as for a person’s right to take a case against the State. But I will meet Mrs O’Farrell because I want to meet her on a humanitarian basis. This is one of a number of very tragic cases and, as I say, nothing will bring back Shane O’Farrell.”
Previously: ‘Delay, Deny, Lie, Then Cover-Up’
O’Callaghan transcript: Kildarestreet.com