The Shane O’Farrell affair-accountability is demanded and overdue

On the RTE radio news yesterday evening I listened to a shocking story concerning the failure of the justice system in Ireland.

The speakers were the mother and sister of a young man, Shane O’Farrell, from County Monaghan who was knocked down off his bicycle and killed by a motorist eleven years ago now.

Shane O’Farrell was 23 and a law graduate, a young man with the world at his feet. The motorist was a man who had over 40 criminal convictions and who should have been, at that time, in jail serving a sentence.

In fact, it now transpires that there were a number of convictions from various District Courts for which he should have been deprived of his liberty at the time he struck and killed Shane O’Farrell.

O’Farrell’s family are looking for a public enquiry as to how this could happen. And have fought this battle for eleven years.

And I began to think of how I would react if one of my children died at the hands of a person who had been tried in accordance with the law, been convicted and sentenced, and who should have been behind bars.

I would not take it well, quite frankly.

And I would fight like the O’Farrell family to highlight the failures in the system of administering justice, lest others were to suffer in a similar way. There is simply no excuse for what happened in this case. Someone needs to emerge and hold their hands up and say, “we made a mistake”, or “we got it wrong”.

And “we’re sorry”. Until that happens there will be justified suspicion about placing one’s trust and confidence in the justice system in Ireland.

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