PAC chairman ordered to leave House in row over hit-and-run

Heated exchanges between the Ceann Comhairle and John McGuinness

Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee John McGuinness was ordered out of the Dáil chamber in a row over an inquiry linked to a fatal hit-and-run incident. Photograph: David Sleator

Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee John McGuinness was ordered out of the Dáil chamber in a row over an inquiry linked to a fatal hit-and-run incident. Photograph: David Sleator

 

Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee John McGuinness was ordered out of the Dáil chamber in a row over an inquiry linked to a fatal hit-and-run incident.

The Fianna Fáil TD had asked Taoiseach Enda Kenny to publish the results of the public interest inquiry into the events surrounding the death of trainee barrister Shane O’Farrell (23) who was killed in a hit-and-run in 2011.

Mr O’Farrell’s family had campaigned for an inquiry into the behaviour of gardaí and other State agencies both in the run up to and after Mr O’Farrell’s death outside Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan.

There were heated exchanges when Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett told him to raise the issue through parliamentary questions. Mr McGuinness, Fianna Fail TD for Carlow-Kilkenny, said he had already done this.

When he repeatedly demanded that Mr Kenny publish the report and refused to sit down the Ceann Comhairle told him he should be ashamed of himself.

Mr McGuinness in turn accused the Ceann Comhairle of making up the rules as he went along.

After repeated requests to sit down the Ceann Comhairle ordered the Public Accounts Committee chairman out of the House and told him that as chairman he knew the rules of the House.

Mr Barrett said he was implementing standing orders and if TDS wanted to change the standing orders they should bring it up with the committee on Procedure and Privileges.

The Ceann Comhairle said he would consider measures to make sure Deputies asked questions only relating to pending legislation, while the Order of Business was under discussion.

And he said Fianna Fail leader Micheál Martin should “have a word” with Mr McGuinness.

Mr O’Farrell was killed in the hit-and-run by motorist Zigimantis Gridzuiska (39), who was given the option of eight months’ imprisonment or a return to his home country of Lithuania. He opted to return home.

Mr Gridziuska had a history of drug abuse. He had 40 previous convictions and had been on suspended sentences both in the State and the North that had not been activated before the fatal hit-and-run.

He had been stopped by a drug squad detective an hour before killing Mr O’Farrell, but had been allowed to continue driving despite having no tax. His car was subsequently found not to have been roadworthy.