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 Header Item Garda Deployment (Continued)
 Header Item Inquiries into Garda Activities

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 979 No. 6

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Deputy Michael McGrath: Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath I thank the Minister of State for his reply. Looking at the figures he provided, he said 2,400 new recruits qualified since September 2014, of whom 62 were assigned to the Cork city division. This is the division representing the second largest city in our State. Some 62 out of 2,400 mean that less than 3% of the newly qualified gardaí have been assigned to the whole division of Cork which includes to the Togher district, and that includes places like Douglas and Carrigaline. We are not getting our fair share. Let us be honest about it.

The Minister of State said that the allocation of resources is solely a matter for the Garda Commissioner. Recently, the Minister for Justice and Equality visited west Cork and he was surrounded by Fine Gael Oireachtas Members and Fine Gael councillors.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan It included Deputy Murphy O'Mahony.

Deputy Michael McGrath: Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath There were announcements by his colleagues on the reopening of Ballinspittle and that Kinsale Garda station would be manned 24-7, all coinciding with his visit. The reality is the Minister acts hand-in-glove with the Garda Commissioner and there is a tie-in there, about which there is no doubt.

Gardaí who have been assigned to the Togher district tell me that they are shocked when they compare the very limited resources in that area with resources elsewhere. There is no doubt that the Togher district, which includes those very large suburbs, is not getting a fair deal as to resources. There is a very real concern within those communities, and I am glad the Minister is here for the end of this debate.

The Minister might say he hears this everywhere but he should check it out. I assure him that he will find that that district is not getting the resources it should be getting. I accept population is not the only determinant but it is certainly a significant factor. This is an area of very rapid population growth and the suburbs are growing very quickly. We need more Garda visibility which we do not have. I ask the Minister to convey these views to the Garda Commissioner so that when he is making decisions on the allocation of resources, these points will be taken on board.

Deputy David Stanton: Information on David Stanton Zoom on David Stanton I assure the Deputy that the Commissioner notes what happens in these Houses as it relates to the Garda Síochána. His management team is concerned about any requests made here and takes them into account. I also assure the Deputy that working with communities to tackle public disorder and reducing anti-social behaviour remains a key priority for the Garda Síochána. Garda visibility is very important and the Government remains committed to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country in order to maintain and strengthen the community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and deter crime. The joint policing committees have a big role to play in this as well. They facilitate consultation, co-operation and discussion and they bring matters to the attention of gardaí at a high level locally, local authorities and elected local representatives. This active and constructive engagement is very important and should be encouraged and supported.

At the heart of the concerns expressed by the Deputy is the relationship between the communities and the local gardaí. That is very important. A Programme for A Partnership Government underlines the importance of community policing in responding to the concerns and expectations of urban and rural communities. The Government is fully committed to implementing that commitment and over the last few years, unprecedented resources have been made available to ensure that the Commissioner and his management team have the resources necessary to deliver a modern policing service to communities throughout the country, including the Togher district.

The Deputy can rest assured that the Garda Síochána will have noted to debate this evening, as it notes all these debates, and will make its decisions independently, as it is mandated to do.

Inquiries into Garda Activities

Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire: Information on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Níl ach seal gairid agam. I will be as direct as possible. It has been clearly demonstrated that Shane O'Farrell was failed by multiple arms of the State's justice agencies. His tragic death was avoidable had those agencies done their jobs correctly. The Dáil and the Seanad have voted in favour of a public inquiry. The Minister has put together a process, or a scoping exercise, under Mr. Justice Gerard Haughton. As has been demonstrated by the journalist, Michael Clifford, this was not considered necessary when an inquiry was put together for the Bill Kenneally case or the IBRC case or to investigate the recording of phone conversations in Garda stations. A number of examples can be provided.

The need for a public inquiry here was clearly demonstrated and the Minister should have proceeded directly to that. I am concerned about the terms of reference that he outlined for Mr. Justice George Haughton. He should have consulted with the family before giving them to the judge and I will pick up on some of those points in my supplementary question.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan We all watched Shane O'Farrell's mother, Lucia, speak with great sadness and eloquence on "Prime Time" last week and make an unanswerable case for a full public inquiry. Both Houses of the Oireachtas have voted for that and overwhelmingly want it. This young man would still be alive had the criminal justice system and certain gardaí done their jobs properly. That is the crux of the matter. Zigimantas Gridziuska was driving the car that killed Shane on 2 August 2011. Just one hour before he killed him, driving a car that had no NCT and no valid insurance, he was stopped by gardaí and had been allowed to continue driving. We know that he breached bail 18 times, had 42 previous convictions and a history of heroin abuse.

We have had several scoping exercises on the Stardust, which was in my constituency. Although I know there is an eight or a nine week timeframe, we should have gone directly to an inquiry. This family has been looking for justice for eight years. Please listen to them and commit to a full public inquiry.

Deputy Gino Kenny: Information on Gino Kenny Zoom on Gino Kenny It is seven and a half years since Shane O'Farrell was unnecessarily killed. There is indisputable consensus in this House that Shane O'Farrell would be alive, and perhaps nobody would have heard of him, if there had not been a systematic catalogue of failures by all parties, including the police and the courts. What the family have always looked for is accountability, truth and justice, and they form very simple narratives. This scoping exercise will not get to that truth. The truth will only come out through a public inquiry. The need for a public inquiry on the unnecessary death of Shane O'Farrell will come out after the scoping exercise.

Deputy Niamh Smyth: Information on Niamh Smyth Zoom on Niamh Smyth On 12 June 2018, Fianna Fáil introduced a motion in the Dáil calling for a commission of investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Shane O'Farrell in Carrickmacross, County Monaghan, in 2011. Lucia O'Farrell, her husband and her daughters have fought tirelessly to seek justice for their son and brother. The State has failed them in the manner in which Shane's death was investigated and was prosecuted and it is continuing to fail the O'Farrell family in the manner in which the complaints surrounding the investigation and the prosecution are being handled by GSOC. We understand from Lucia and her family that they were disappointed by the non-engagement with them on the terms of reference for the scoping inquiry, but I am very hopeful, which is to give the Minister some credit, that it indicates he will give full support to the Oireachtas vote last year on the establishment of a public inquiry.

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan The circumstances surrounding the tragic and untimely death of Shane O'Farrell are of concern to all Members of this House. The case has been discussed here on many occasions, along with the subsequent investigations that have taken place into the events surrounding this dreadful accident. Shane O'Farrell was a much-loved son and brother and his death has clearly been devastating for his family to whom I once again extend my sincere condolences. The House will recall the outcome of the GSOC criminal investigation of complaints related to this tragedy. Members may not be aware that GSOC recently completed its disciplinary investigation and this has resulted in a recommendation to the Garda Commissioner that disciplinary action be taken in relation to three members of An Garda Síochána. Clearly, this is a matter for the Garda Commissioner, and the Garda Commissioner alone, and it will now take its proper course. I do not propose to comment further on that.

In June 2018, as Deputy Niamh Smyth said, the Dáil passed a motion calling for a public inquiry into the death of Shane O'Farrell.

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