Shatter orders inquiry into hit-and-run death

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has ordered the Garda Ombudsman to conduct a public interest inquiry into events surrounding the death of Shane O’Farrell, the 23-year-old man who was killed in a hit and run in 2011.

Mr O’Farrell’s family has been campaigning for an inquiry into the conduct of members of the gardaí and other state agencies before and after Mr O’Farrell was killed outside Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan, on August 2, 2011.

A Lithuanian, Zigimantas Gridziuska subsequently pleaded guilty for failing to stop at the scene of an accident, and received an eight-month suspended sentence.

Gridziuska, who had a history of drug abuse, had 40 convictions before the incident, and had been on suspended sentences in the Republic and the North that should have been activated prior to August 2011.

On the night in question, he had been stopped by a drug squad detective an hour before killing Mr O’Farrell, but had been allowed to carry on despite having no tax and his vehicle subsequently found to have been unroadworthy.

After the incident, Mr O’Farrell’s family say that gardaí did not object to Gridziuska’s bail application, and neither did they inform the family when the man was due up on a related insurance fraud.

Mr O’Farrell’s family, and particularly his mother Lucia and sister Gemma, have conducted a long campaign to determine how the offender managed to remain at large despite being convicted and receiving suspended sentences that should have prompted activation.

They also want investigated the Garda conduct in the wake of the incident, claiming that there were cover-ups to ensure shortcomings in Garda practice were not exposed.

GSOC is already conducting an investigation into a series of allegations made by the O’Farrells.

Yesterday’s intervention by the minister, under Section 102 of the Garda Síochána 2005 Act, means that GSOC can extend its inquiries beyond any specific allegations made by the O’Farrells.

Lucia O’Farrell met Mr Shatter and Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald yesterday.

She said she was satisfied with the development.

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