Lucia O’Farrel’s 23-year-old son Shane 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 that should have been activated prior to the incident.
Lucia has raised concerns about garda failures and serious ‘irregularities’ during Gridzuiska’s trial and is suing the Minister for Justice and the State over Shane’s death.
Our quest for justice for Shane has been hampered by the Department of Justice. They appear to have forgotten the very thing they are supposed to represent, they appear to have forgotten the very thing they are supposed to fight for: truth and justice. They appear to have forgotten the very people that they are there to serve.
Despite my correspondence with evidence of irregularities which occurred in the court in Shane’s case – which have been with the Department of Justice since before July 2013 – they have chosen to ignore it. Is this in the public interest of the people that they are there to serve? The Minister for Justice has chosen loyalty over honesty.
The ‘review panel’ which was set up by Minister Fitzgerald in July 2014 was to look at allegations of Garda failure. It was to take 8 to 12 weeks. No thought whatsoever went into this ‘review panel’ or did it?
Why was Conor Devally appointed, when they knew he defended the man who took Shane’s life? Despite Shane’s case being one of the most serious – as Shane is dead because of Garda failure – they appointed the Mr Devally as one of two senior counsels to oversee the ‘review panel’.
His appointment is unjust, there is the appearance of bias, it shows lack of independence, unfair procedure, and it is irrational and totally wrong. Minister Fitzgerald refused to remove him.
Please bear in mind that, Ms Fritzgerald has stated in the Dáil that the purpose of the two senior counsels is “to oversee the mechanism to ensure consistency of approach across all the cases” and “in addition to examining individual complaints, are required to advise the Dept generally on the management of the process, take a joint lead in allocating cases to junior counsel, and jointly oversee recommendations with a view to ensuring as far as possible a consistency of approach”.
She also stated that “counsel have to take into account whether those cases have been through due process, even if the persons involved remain unhappy with the outcome of that process.”
Naturally I have no faith in this process, it is very flawed. I have written several times asking for a list of the documents that are being reviewed by this panel. This is not even best international practice, it is just normal standard practice, yet no list has been furnished to me.
For over a year before this panel was formed, I sent documents to various state agencies and deputies who may have passed them to the Department of Justice. I have no idea on what material they are making their findings.
Documents with evidence of cover-up by the State were sent to the Dept of Justice/Attorney General. DPP, Standards in Public Office. The Irish Human Rights and Equity Commission, The Joint Justice Committee, An Toaiseach, Joan Burton, Kevin Humphreys, Eamon Gilmore, etc.
Documents with evidence of State cover-up and corruption were also sent to members of the Northern Ireland Assembly on our visit to Stormont in December 2014, also to Minister for Justice in Northern Ireland Mr David Ford whom I met with. In May 2015 similar documents were given to our MEP’s in the European Parliament in Brussels.
On July 21, 2015, I attended the 2016 MacGill Summer School for the debate entitled, The justice system – where stands reform? At question time, I addressed Shane’s horrific death and the cover-up that followed, I said to Minister Fitzgerald that we are frequently told that no one is above the law, even those appointed to uphold and administrate the law, yet she has failed to act on wrongdoing in this case, irregularities that occurred in the court to protect the gardaí in their failure.
I again asked for a Public Inquiry into his killing and the cover-up that followed. I said that I am not going away. Her reply was, ‘this case is under investigation’. Please note this was the same response from Minister Fitzgerald one year ago (July 2014) at the MacGill Summer School on a similar debate about justice.
Frances Fitzgerald has failed Shane and our family. She has failed to investigate the very serious wrongdoing by the prosecution which she has had evidence since May 2014. She is prizing loyalty over honesty.
Surely if the truth is not told in a court of law by the prosecution, this is a serious problem. I always believed evidence was all that was needed, it is not, because who do you bring it to? Very serious evidence of wrongdoing is being ignored by Frances Fitzgerald.
I will see them in Strasbourg.
Previously: Not Going Away
Shane O’Farrell on Broadsheet