Justice Minister Helen McEntee has said she “genuinely regrets” another delay in the scoping exercise into the death of Shane O’Farrell, a Monaghan cyclist killed by a driver out on bail.
The O’Farrell family have called for a State inquiry into the circumstances of his death and the latest delay has been criticised by the opposition and some Government TDs.
On the evening of August 2, 2011, Mr O’Farrell was cycling home when he was struck by a car driven by Zigimantas Gradzuiska near Carrickmacross in Co Monaghan.
Gradzuiska had previous convictions for offences including aggravated burglary, road traffic offences and the handling of stolen property.
The O’Farrell family has been asking how Gradzuiska, a repeat offender who was on bail from multiple courts, was at liberty on the day Shane was killed.
Responding to the Opposition, Ms McEntee confirmed that Judge Gerard Haughton has requested additional time to complete his scoping exercise.
“Judge Haughton furnished an interim report to my predecessor last November and following consultations between the Judge, Shane's family and the Attorney General, the interim report was published on 17 December 2019.
"In his interim report, the Judge stated that he would not restrict or limit Shane's family in their submissions to him or the nature and extent of the documentation they wished to furnish to him in his scoping exercise.”
“I can confirm that my Department recently received a letter from Judge Haughton updating the Department on his progress. In this correspondence, the Judge requested a further extension of the timeline to 29 January 2021 and set out a clear and detailed rationale for this extension,” Ms McEntee said.
“While I genuinely regret this further delay I am also aware that the Judge is doing all that he can to ensure that the concerns which the family have raised with him during the process are followed through to the greatest extent possible and this requires additional time,” the minister told Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy.
“I can assure the Deputy that it is, of course, open to the Judge to make any recommendation he sees fit in his final report, including the establishment of any form of statutory or non-statutory inquiry. I hope the Deputy will appreciate that it is appropriate to await the recommendation of the final report of this scoping exercise before making any decision in relation to further inquiries into this matter,” she said.
She said she offered her condolences to the family of the late Shane O'Farrell. “I understand that he was an exceptional young man and his death was a terrible tragedy,” she said.
Fianna Fáil TD for Kilkenny, John McGuinness, has repeatedly backed calls for a full State inquiry into Shane O’Farrell's death and said anything short of that would amount to a whitewash.
“While we await the conclusions of the scoping exercise, it is quite clear we need an inquiry that includes the Gardai, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Courts. All of these arms of the State have so far failed the O’Farrell family,” he told the Irish Examiner.
“Lucia O’Farrell, Shane’s mother, deserves justice for her son and I will be pushing for that until it happens,” he said.