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Order of Business

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Senator David Norris

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Order of Business
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I was alerted to watch last night's edition of "Prime Time" which dealt with six cases in respect of which there had been allegations of laziness or cover-up in An Garda Síochána. I have raised one of the cases dealt with in the programme on a number of occasions in the House. Mr. Shane O'Farrell who was a brilliant student in Trinity College College and who had just completed a further degree in law and handed in his thesis was hit by a car when cycling home from a training session. He was carried for a long distance on the bonnet of the car which failed to stop at the scene. The driver went home, hid the car, told his wife he had hit somebody but that he did not know who it was. The man who is an eastern European had a string of convictions as long as one's arm and was out on bail in two other cases and had been stopped by the Garda an hour prior to the accident while driving an uninsured car. That car should have been repossessed. If it had, Mr. O'Farrell would still be alive today. The case has been referred to a committee of barristers by the Minister for Justice and Equality, which is unsatisfactory because that committee has thus far recommended further investigation in only a small number of cases. I ask the Leader arrange a debate on these issues. The vast majority of gardaí are decent, but there is a culture of cover-up within An Garda Síochána.
I also express concern about proposed changes in respect of J1 visas, of which many undergraduates avail in order to travel to the United States to obtain formative training, earn money for college fees and have a good time. There are suggestions that the J1 visa programme will be restricted such that young people will only be granted visas if they have already secured employment in the United States. This would reduce the number of visas granted by up to 80%, which would be a very severe incursion into the experience of young people. It is good for them to travel to the United States and experience its culture. The proposed restriction may be in response to rowdy behaviour and so on. That is regrettable because such behaviour is very much only engaged in by a minority. The Minister should be alerted to this and asked to closely monitor the position in order to ensure the J1 visa programme will continue to operate in its current form. An education programme should be put in place for young people travelling to the United States to ensure they are aware that while it is fine for them to have a good time and so on, they are responsible for representing Ireland while they are there.