21. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress made towards giving effect to the vote of Dáil Éireann on establishing a public inquiry into the death of a person (details supplied). [49715/18]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): In the first instance, let me again express my sympathy to the family concerned in this tragic case. As Minister, I am very regularly engaged on this case.
As the Deputy is aware, the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission conducted an investigation into certain matters related to the circumstances surrounding the tragic death of Shane O'Farrell. This investigation arose out of a series of complaints to GSOC from members of the family of Shane O'Farrell. Certain aspects of the case were also referred to GSOC for investigation by a previous Minister.
Both I and the Government have indicated that we recognise the failings that occurred in the run up to this tragic incident.
The outcome of GSOC’s investigation was set out in a report earlier this year, which was provided to the family of Shane O'Farrell. The investigation concluded that no criminal misbehaviour by members of An Garda Síochána was disclosed. GSOC’s investigation found that, while no such conduct occurred which would require criminal sanction, certain aspects were identified as requiring further investigation which may lead to disciplinary proceedings against one or more members. The investigation of those matters by GSOC is still on-going. In the circumstances I do not propose to comment further while the investigation is proceeding.
I can say that I have been informed by GSOC that the outcome of that investigation will be submitted to the GSOC Commissioners as soon as is practicable. Upon receipt of the report, GSOC will, in accordance with section 97 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005, submit a report to the Garda Commissioner outlining its findings. 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.
While the Deputy's Question refers to the motion passed by the House in June this year, I have previously made clear to the House that it is imperative that the independence of the Ombudsman Commission is respected and that there is no improper interference with its investigations.
The motion referred to the need to examine the actions of the Gardaí, the Director of Public Prosecutions, GSOC and the Courts. I would remind the Deputy of the constitutional independence of the Courts and the statutory independence of the Gardaí, the Director of Public Prosecutions and GSOC. These are important matters which must be taken into consideration.
I have been considering the motion passed by the Dáil and I have written to the Attorney General seeking his advice on how I can best give effect to the wishes of the House. When I have received the Attorney's response, I will be in a position to outline how I propose to proceed.
We are all aware of the significant amount of time that the GSOC investigation has taken. I am cognisant of the effect that this must be having on the family. I want to pay tribute to the family for their determination in pursuing the matter. There are clearly lessons to be learned from this tragedy and I am committed to doing all that is possible to ensure that the failings identified are not repeated.