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3 May 2017
- Deputy Jonathan O'Brien
Opening statement by the Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality
David Stanton TD
on behalf of the Tánaiste
A Cheann Comhairle,
I am taking this matter this evening on behalf of the Tánaiste.
The killing of Garda Tony Golden at Omeath in October 2015 was a tragic loss for his family and for his colleagues in An Garda Síochána. I know that all Members of the House will share my view that Tony Golden was a hero who gave his life doing his duty as a Garda and seeking to protect a vulnerable woman.
Whatever the nature of allegations that may be made, we must have the utmost sensitivity for those who have suffered so much as a result of these tragic events. I think, particularly, of Garda Tony Golden’s widow, Nicola, and his three children and also of Siobhán Phillips who suffered terrible injuries. We should not forget also the grief of Adrian Mackin’s family.
While it is important that any issues of concern related to these tragic events are fully investigated, it is essential to remember that the various allegations being made are just that – allegations. The truth or otherwise of those allegations has not been established and there are ongoing processes, set out in law, to do that. It would be prudent, therefore, not to jump to hasty conclusions.
Many of the concerns set out were raised previously with the Tánaiste and they were brought quickly to the attention of, and pursued with, the Garda Authorities in the context of their ongoing investigation and review processes into the shootings and related matters. The Tánaiste expects to receive a final report from the Garda Authorities addressing these matters when the investigation and review are completed.
The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission recently announced its decision to initiate a public interest investigation into certain matters relating to these tragic events. It has indicated that this public interest investigation will take place alongside the ongoing GSOC investigation of complaints relating to these events that were made previously.
I welcome the actions being taken by GSOC, in accordance with its powers under the law. These investigations must be allowed to take their course so that the truth or otherwise of certain allegations made can be established independently. Without seeking to prejudge the issues involved, it would obviously be of great importance to learn anything that can be learned from the tragic events at Omeath. The GSOC investigation should be of considerable assistance in this regard.
There has been public comment on decisions made in respect of charging Mr. Mackin with certain offences. Decisions in respect of the prosecution of offences are matters for the Director of Public Prosecutions who, by law, is fully independent in discharging these functions. This independence is a cornerstone of our criminal justice system; it has served the State well and it should be respected fully. In these circumstances it would evidently not be appropriate to comment on the details.