New inquiry to be held into Shane Tuohey’s death

Investigation will review circumstances of 2002 death and Garda malpractice claims

Shane Tuohey

The death of a man in disputed circumstances 14 years ago is to be investigated by a new statutory inquiry, the Department of Justice has said.

The inquiry will examine the circumstances surrounding the death of Co Offaly man Shane Tuohey (23) in 2002 and allegations the Garda investigation at the time was botched.

It will seek to establish what information the force had in its possession and whether it was acted on properly.

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald has written to the Tuohey family to inform them she had ordered the new inquiry.


“There are consultations ongoing with the Attorney General about the precise terms of reference for the inquiry,” the Department of Justice said following queries from The Irish Times.

“No decision has yet been made about who will conduct the inquiry. The Tánaiste will be in further contact with the family about the matter.”


The case was one of those considered by the independent review mechanism established by the Department of Justice to examine allegations of Garda incompetence in over 200 cases.

That process recommended further investigation of Mr Tuohey's death. The inquiry is being conducted under section 42 of the Garda Síochána Act.

The same legislation was used by the then ombudsman for children, Emily Logan, to investigate how two Roma children were taken from their families by the Garda in Athlone, Co Westmeath, and Tallaght, Co Dublin, in 2013.


Mr Tuohey’s family has said repeatedly in recent years that he was being bullied in the months before his death and that he was assaulted on the night he died as part of that intimidation and bullying.

They also believe gardaí refused to explore the possibility Mr Tuohey died as a result of foul play, deciding from the time he went missing and before his body was found a week later that he was suicidal.

CCTV gathered from a number of locations in Clara, Co Offaly, where Mr Tuohey was last seen alive in February 2002, had gone missing but was found last year in Portlaoise Garda station.

The dead man’s family believes the recordings may capture his movements and those of people of interest in the case around Clara on the night he went missing.

The case has been the subject of several Garda reviews which concluded there were shortcomings with the initial investigation into Mr Tuohey’s death.

However, those reviews found the problematic aspects to the initial inquiry did not undermine the conclusion Mr Tuohey drowned and had not met with foul play.

The then State pathologist, Prof John Harbison, reached the same findings, as did the jury at Mr Tuohey's inquest.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times