(Mayo): This is an extremely serious case. It goes to the very heart of judicial performance, credibility and the public's faith in a central and vital instrument in the criminal justice system, namely, the courts.
We are now in an era of freedom of information, transparency and accountability. We will not be deflected from our determination to find out the truth. Somebody somewhere in the pyramid of responsibility and accountability in the courts and judicial system made certain decisions in relation to the Philip Sheedy case. We must know who made these decisions, when they were made and why they were made. We are not interested in the usual bland ministerial script. This is an issue of sufficient gravity that unless a satisfactory explanation is forthcoming, we may have to seek to invoke Article 35.4.1 of the Constitution.
Mrs. Ann Ryan was a young mother of two children who was prematurely killed by a car which soared 60 feet into the air. She was killed and her husband was seriously injured in the presence and full view of their two children. The car, recklessly driven, had hit Glenview roundabout in Tallaght on 15 March 1997. The driver of the car was convicted of dangerous driving with excess alcohol at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court in October 1997. The defendant was sentenced to four years in prison. Crucially, the presiding judge, Judge Mathews, gave the defendant leave to apply for a review of sentence two years later. One month later, however, in November 1997, the defendant applied to have the right of review set aside and thereby forfeited and abandoned his sentence review right.
On 12 November 1998, just one year after sentence and 11 months before the original review date, Mr. Sheedy had the remaining three years of his sentence suspended by Judge Cyril Kelly at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. Neither the Garda nor the Director of Public Prosecutions were notified or represented. The defendant was freed, resumed his job and 12 days later Judge Kelly was appointed to the High Court.
In February of this year, the Director of Public Prosecutions challenged Judge Kelly's decision.