Interim report on controversial killing of cyclist expected in ‘next couple of weeks’
Shane O’Farrell died after being struck by car driven by criminal who breached bail in 2011
Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan: ‘I want to make it very clear that there is no conspiracy here. There is no cover-up here. I want to uncover the truth.’ Photograph: Garrett White/Collins
Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan expects to receive an interim report dealing with the killing of a 23-year-old man in controversial circumstances in the “next couple of weeks”.
District Court Judge Gerard Haughton will produce the interim report into a scoping exercise to determine what further inquiries should be conducted into the death in August 2011 of 23-year-old Shane O’Farrell.
He was killed while cycling on the N2 near Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan when he was struck by a car driven by a serial criminal who should have been in custody because he had breached bail conditions.
Mr Flanagan said he expected the Judge would set out the timeframe for the completion of the scoping exercise.
Mr Flanagan insisted there was no intention on his party to “in any way limit or curtail the scoping exercise”.
Mr Flanagan was responding to Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness who said all the recommendations Mr O’Farrell’s family had made to amend the terms of reference for the scoping exercise had been rejected by the Minister’s department.
Mr Flanagan told him the legal advice was that the scoping exercise should be “focused” but the terms of reference allow for a review and the Judge is “free to make any recommendation he deems fit, including the setting up of any form of statutory or non-statutory inquiry or investigation”.
Mr McGuinness said it was “very hard to take” the decision not to include the family’s recommendations when “the evidence in respect of this has been collected, dated and put in perfect order by Lucia O’Farrell in the interest of uncovering what happened her son Shane and in the interest of justice and protecting their right to have a public inquiry”.
The Dáil had voted for a public inquiry into the case and he called for the terms of reference to be expanded to include “all of the issues that are of public concern”, he said.
Mr Flanagan said “I want to make it very clear that there is no conspiracy here. There is no cover-up here. I want to uncover the truth and the facts as much as any other Deputy in this House.”
He added that the Judge Haughton “is an experienced and respected judge. He is also most dedicated to the work he has been asked to undertake.”
Mr McGuinness said Mr Flanagan’s reply confused him because “I did not mention conspiracy or cover-up. I never mentioned that. Nor did I question Judge Haughton or his integrity or anything else about the judge. The Minister seems to defend something that has not been presented to him as an argument.”
He added that the department had rejected the judge’s terms of reference and “narrowed the original terms of reference” the department itself proposed in February.
And he said the department had “removed reference to Shane and the family’s right, under human rights, to ensure an effective investigation into the unlawful killing”.
Mr Flanagan said he was aware that the O’Farrell family “continue to feel acute pain arising from this dreadful loss. They continue to seek answers.”
He stressed that the judge was free to make any recommendation he deemed fit and if he did recommend an inquiry of any type “I have asked him, in order to ensure no further delay, that he might include draft terms of reference for such an inquiry in his report”.