93. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Justice the progress to date in establishing a public inquiry into the death of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51633/21]
Deputy Heather Humphreys: Gabhaim buíochas. I thank the Deputy again for raising this issue. I wish to assure the Deputy that I also, as do others in this House, recognise the ongoing pain and anguish of the O'Farrell family on the tragic death of Shane and I deeply sympathise with them on their loss.
As the Deputy will be aware, a highly respected retired Judge, Gerard Haughton, has been conducting a scoping exercise into the tragic circumstances surrounding Shane O'Farrell's death. The purpose of this exercise is to advise as to whether any further investigation or inquiry beyond those already carried out is necessary and, if so, to advise on the form of such investigation or inquiry and its terms of reference. Former Justice Haughton furnished an interim report to the then Minister for Justice and Equality in November 2019 in which he stated that he would not restrict or limit Shane's family in their submissions to him or the nature and extent of the documentation they wished to furnish to him in his scoping exercise.
As the Deputy will appreciate, the judge is completely independent in conducting this scoping exercise. It is not open to me as Minister to comment on any aspect of the judge's work or the process of compiling the final report. My Department maintains regular contact with the judge and has assured him that any assistance he requires to complete his final report will be made available.
While I genuinely regret that this process has taken significantly longer than any of us would wish, I am also aware that the judge is doing all that he can to ensure that the concerns which the family have raised with him during the process are followed through to the greatest extent possible. I understand that Judge Haughton has been in contact with the O’Farrell family throughout his scoping exercise.
I am informed the process is now at the stage of seeking comments on various sections of the report from the parties named in it, including my Department. I also understand that Judge Haughton has been in touch with the O'Farrell family regarding this matter.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House
Following receipt of responses from all relevant parties, it is understood that Judge Haughton will be in a position to finalise his report. My Department will continue to provide all necessary assistance to the judge and I look forward to receiving his final report in due course.
Following receipt of the final report, in line with established process, the advice of the Attorney General will be sought on publication and any other issues arising.