The State has “covered up for something that is very rotten” in the investigation into the killing of a 23-year-old cyclist in a hit-and-run incident eight years ago, the Dáil has heard.
Sinn Féin TD Martin Kenny made the claim during a debate about the terms of reference of a scoping exercise on what further investigations should take place into the circumstances of the case.
The Sligo-Leitrim TD alleged that there was an issue in relation to “informers” and An Garda Síochána which had not previously been recognised in the case.
Student Shane O’Farrell was struck in August 2011 by a car driven by Zigimantas Gridziuska who should have been in custody at the time due to his continued breach of bail conditions.
Mr Kenny introduced an amendment to a Fianna Fáil private member’s motion on the controversial case.
He said the amendment was “in relation to the relationship formal or informal between Zigimantas Gridziuska and Garda Síochána handlers of informers”.
Mr Kenny said “there is an issue there that has not been recognised heretofore”.
He said the driver “seemed to get away scot free and that is the problem and the State have covered up for something that is very rotten at the core of it” and they had to get to the truth.
The dead man’s family sought a public inquiry into the investigation and both the Dáil and Seanad supported its establishment.
However in February Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan commissioned Judge Gerard Haughton to conduct a scoping exercise rather than move directly to a public inquiry.
Judge Haughton met the family and in April submitted terms of reference to the Department of Justice but the department in July issued amended terms.
The Fianna Fáil motion called on the Government to accept the original terms of reference and the party’s justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan said the differences were significant.
The amended terms are “watering down” the extent to which the judge could address the issues involved.
He pointed out that in January 2011 before Mr O’Farrell was killed the Lithuanian driver of the car that struck him was convicted of theft. The judge in the case said that he would be sent to prison to serve a one year sentence if he was further convicted.
In May he was convicted of theft and should have been brought back to court. In a separate case he was convicted for speeding. In June he was convicted for possession of heroin and in July in the North he was convicted of theft. “He should not have been at liberty when Shane O’Farrell was out cycling,” Mr O’Callaghan said.
Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said however that that the terms of reference were as “specific as possible to remove any potential for ambiguity”.
Mr Flanagan said they were all working towards the same goal to have an inquiry that was “legally robust and legally compliant”.
He insisted there was no intention to in any way limit or restrict the scoping exercise but he said he was bound by the advice of the Attorney General.
An interim report due from the judge shortly would set out the expected timeframe for the completion of the scoping exercise.
Mr Flanagan stressed that the judge was free to make any recommendation including establishment of any form of statutory or non-statutory inquiry.
That could include looking at systems and procedures on sharing of information between gardaí and the court system and any other agencies, the Minister said adding that he was “anxious to see real progress”.