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Kerryman pleas for inquiry into his brother’s death: ‘We just want answers’

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Michael O'Shea whose is calling for the inquiry he says was promised by the Department of Justice to be completed. Photo by Michael Kenny.

Michael O'Shea whose is calling for the inquiry he says was promised by the Department of Justice to be completed. Photo by Michael Kenny.

The late John O'Shea.

The late John O'Shea.

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Michael O'Shea whose is calling for the inquiry he says was promised by the Department of Justice to be completed. Photo by Michael Kenny.

kerryman

In 2001, the O’Shea family was left devastated following the death of 40-year-old John O’Shea, who was found dead by his parents outside the family home after being dropped off by a taxi.

That was 21 years ago this October, and the Castlemaine family claim they are still seeking answers as to how John died.

They are still waiting for an inquiry into the Kerry man’s death eight years after the Department of Justice indicated that an investigation would take place, according to John’s brother, Michael O’Shea.

This inquiry, he claims, was promised by the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald.

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On the day of his death, John O’Shea had been drinking in Tralee when he was arrested and detained at Tralee Garda Station. This was the October Bank Holiday weekend in 2001.

"I went to collect him but he wasn’t left out, so I came home,” recalls Michael.

Later that day, he was released and returned home to Castlemaine in a taxi. Again, he had a few drinks before making his way home by taxi.

His parents found him slumped outside their home, and he was pronounced dead.

"My mother was never the same again," says Michael.

His parents are now both dead, and in the intervening years, Michael has continued his campaign for answers into his brother’s death. The inquest into his death, held in 2002, returned an open verdict.

State Pathologist Professor John Harbison carried out a post-mortem on the deceased man. He believed the cause of death to be hypothermia.

However, he changed his evidence on the second day of the inquest. He accepted that all the evidence suggested that John O’Shea had only been outside the house for a period of less than an hour. This period of time was too short to have died from hypothermia, he said.

He could not explain many of the injuries on Mr O’Shea’s face, neck and body. Michael says there are still questions about these marks.

The taxi driver, who drove Mr O’Shea home, did not notice any marks on the deceased.

Professor Harbison said he could possibly have died from cardio myopathy coupled with alcoholic intoxication.

The O’Shea family – who at the time were legally represented by well-known solicitor Michael Finucane – continued their fight for answers.

"We weren’t happy with that. There were 17 marks on this body that were not explained properly,” said Michael.

Several written requests to both Ministers John O’Donoghue and Michael McDowell all failed to have an inquiry sanctioned, but in 2014, the then Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said that the case would be reviewed.

"We were told in 2014 that it would be reviewed, but nothing has happened since,” said Michael.

"Some days you get sick of it, and then you hear other stories or something happens and you get energy again. Something did happen to John and we want to crack that nut...We just want answers,” he said.

The Department of Justice in response to queries about the review said that they do not comment on individual cases.

“To respect the privacy of individuals it is not the practice of the Department to comment on individual cases, but the Department will reply to any queries raised directly by individuals or families.”


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