52. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the reason no public inquiry into the death of a person (details supplied) has commenced; his plans to commission one; and when he expects a GSOC report on this case to be completed. [42446/18]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): As the House is aware, certain matters related to the circumstances surrounding the tragic death of Shane O'Farrell were the subject of an investigation conducted by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission. The report published by GSOC on the outcome of its investigation found that there was no conduct by any member of the Gardaí which would constitute an offence. However, there was conduct that requires further investigation which may lead to disciplinary proceedings against one or more members. That further investigation by GSOC is on-going and I do not propose to comment on that matter while the investigation is proceeding. As the Deputy is well aware, GSOC is independent and it would be entirely inappropriate of me to comment where I have no authority to do so.
I have been informed by GSOC that the Senior Investigating Officer in charge of the investigation has outlined that a report into the disciplinary aspect of the GSOC investigation will be submitted to the GSOC Commission as soon as is practicable. Upon receipt of the report, the GSOC Commission is then obliged under section 97 of the Garda Síochána Act, 2005 to submit a report to the Garda Commissioner outlining the findings of the GSOC investigation. It will also contain a recommendation about whether or not disciplinary proceedings should be instituted under the Garda Síochána Disciplinary Regulations against any of the Garda members subject of the investigation.
In response to the motion calling for an investigation into Shane O'Farrell’s death, the Government must respect fully the independence of GSOC. The motion referred to the need to examine the actions of the Gardaí, the Director of Public Prosecutions, GSOC and the courts. The Government recognises the failings that occurred in the run up to this tragic incident and GSOC, the independent authority established by an Act of the Oireachtas, should be allowed to complete its investigation unhindered. That being said, it is entirely appropriate that any further or proposed action be deferred until the current investigation is completed.
I should also mention that the Department of Justice and Equality is considering how the issues around systems, processes and procedures that have been identified in this case, can be best reviewed so that lessons can be learned and that tragedies such as this are avoided, to the greatest extent possible, in the future.
I want to reiterate to the House the Government's undertaking that when investigations are completed, the question of what further action might be taken will be considered.