Tuesday 25 June 2019

Justice Minister 'open-minded' about further inquiry into death of cyclist Shane O'Farrell

The 23-year-old was killed in Carrickmacross in 2011 in a hit-and-run by a drunk driver

Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

JUSTICE Minister Charlie O’Flanagan has said there were a number of “failures” on the part of gardai in relation to the death of a young man in a hit-and-run by a drunk driver.

The minister said he remains “open-minded” to the possibility of a Commission of Inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of graduate Shane O’Farrell in August 2011 but said GSOC must be allowed to complete its investigation.

Zigimantas Gridziuska had more than 40 previous convictions and broke his bail conditions repeatedly when he mowed down the 23-year-old  in Carrickmacross on the night of August 2, 2011.

Gridziuska failed to stop at the scene and handed himself into gardaí the following day.

An initial GSOC report following six years of investigation notes a number of occasions when Gridziuska did not meet his bail conditions but was not returned to court by gardai. This pattern continued even after he was charged in relation to the incident which caused the death of the young student. GSOC found that during one period after being bailed in relation to offences relating to leaving the scene of a fatal collision the Lithuanian national was actually imprisoned for a number of days in Belfast when he was due to sign on with gardai but his absence was not followed up.

No evidence of criminal wrongdoing on behalf of gardai was found by GSOC and the watchdog has now moved into its second phase of investigations which will look at whether or not gardai breached regulations and may be subject to disciplinary action.

Speaking in the Dail in response to a call from Fianna Fail for a Commission of Investigation to be set-up Mr Flanagan said: “It is clear that there are a number of troubling matters surrounding the circumstances leading up to the road traffic incident in which Shane O’Farrell’s life was cut tragically short. The GSOC report clearly identifies those matters. They were, in fact, failures.”

Mr Flanagan said to establish an inquiry would undermine GSOC in the eyes of gardai, the public and the Oireachtas.

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