Friday, 6 September 2019

Questions (561, 666)

Jim O'Callaghan


561. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when the public inquiry will commence into the death of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34984/19]

View answer

Brendan Smith


666. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to hold a public inquiry in to the death of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36387/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 561 and 666 together.

As the Deputy will be aware, the circumstances surrounding the tragic death of the late Shane O'Farrell have been addressed by me on several occasions in both the Dáil and the Seanad.

Following the Dáil motion calling for a public inquiry last year, I sought the advice of the Attorney General on how best to proceed, given the fact that the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission was still investigating certain matters in relation to the case. Following the conclusion of the GSOC investigation, I appointed retired District Court Judge Gerard Haughton to conduct a scoping exercise and to advise me in relation to the case.

Judge Haughton subsequently met with the O'Farrell family to discuss the terms of reference and to seek their views. Following his engagement with the family, I received a proposal from Judge Haughton for some changes to the terms of reference for the scoping exercise. Revised draft terms of reference have been provided to Judge Haughton and I understand that he has engaged further with the O’Farrell family.

I regret that it has taken longer than I would have liked to reach this point however it has been necessary to review the original draft terms of reference and the suggested amendments in light of the Supreme Court judgment in Shatter v Guerin . I am sure that the Deputy will appreciate the importance of ensuring that any new scoping exercise is framed and conducted in accordance with that judgment.

I expect that it will be possible for Judge Haughton to commence the scoping exercise shortly. Judge Haughton is required to provide me with an interim report within 8 weeks of commencement. He is free to make any recommendation he sees fit, including the establishment of any of the various forms of statutory or non-statutory inquiry. Should he consider it necessary to recommend an inquiry, of whatever type, I have asked him to provide me with draft terms of reference.