30. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if an individual (details supplied) has met the family of a person; the progress of the scoping exercise; the likely date for conclusion; if he will commission an independent inquiry into all aspects of the case following same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21137/19]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): As the Deputy will be aware, the House passed a motion last summer calling for the establishment of a public inquiry into the circumstances of the tragic death of Shane O'Farrell. While wishing to respond appropriately to the motion, I was conscious that the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) was investigating certain matters arising from the incident at the time.
At the end of January, following the completion of the GSOC investigation and having received advice from the Attorney General, I concluded that the best way to proceed was to have a scoping exercise carried out to determine if there were matters that remained to be answered in the case and if so, the most appropriate way to have these investigated. I informed the Government of this approach and appointed retired District Court Judge Gerard Haughton to conduct a scoping exercise and to advise me in relation to the case.
I met with members of the O’Farrell family to inform them of the decision and I provided them with a copy of the terms of reference for Judge Haughton's scoping exercise. I invited them to give their views on those terms of reference to the judge.
In terms of the progress of the scoping exercise, I understand that Judge Haughton has met with the family to discuss the terms of reference and to seek their input into any amendments which might be required.
I have now received a proposal for some changes to the terms of reference for the scoping exercise and I have asked the Attorney General for his advice on the changes proposed by Judge Haughton. When I receive that advice I expect to be in a position to ask Judge Haughton to formally commence his scoping exercise.
Thereafter, the terms of reference require Judge Haughton to provide me with an interim report within 8 weeks of the commencement of the scoping exercise. He is free to make any recommendation he considers necessary and appropriate including the establishment of any of the various forms of statutory and non-statutory inquiry. Should he consider it necessary to recommend an inquiry, I have asked him to provide me with draft terms of reference.