Friday, March 27, 2015

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DDI Concerns Surrounding a Garda Investigation

Direct Democracy Ireland calls on the government to issue a statement regarding the circumstances in respect of the Fine Gael Richie Culhane's conviction in relation to a road traffic accident which resulted in the death of Patrick O'Rourke in 1981.



  • Sitting Louth Fine Gael Councillor Richie Culhane found guilty of a number of offences in relation to the tragic death of Drogheda man Patrick O’Rourke in 1981

Direct Democracy Ireland have serious concerns surrounding a Garda investigation into a tragic death.
Patrick O'Rourke, then 19, died from his injuries on October 5th 1981 in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Drogheda following a car crash involving an off duty Garda, now a sitting Fine Gael Councillor, Richie Culhane. The family is of the impression that no satisfactory investigation was ever carried out into the incident and the Garda in question (now retired) was simply moved from Drogheda to Balbriggan. 
Although Geraldine O'Rourke was assured by the Taoiseach's office on 12th August 2014 that the matter had been referred to the Minister for Justice & Equality, and would be dealt with by the Attorney General's independent panel of legal council investigating Garda misconduct, They have not had any further contact from those offices, nor do the family expect any positive or just outcome. 
Geraldine O'Rourke had made enquiries of their own using the Freedom of Information Act requesting all records of the case from Gardai, The Coroner's Office, and the Our Lady of Lourdes hospital in Drogheda. Much to theirs, and our, alarm they received a response from Superintendent Smith at Drogheda Garda Station on 20th October 2014 stating they could not find any records of the investigation.  
This raised their suspicions but their concerns were heightened after receiving responses from both the Coroner's Office and the hospital also stating that no records could be found. 
One agency losing records of an incident is possible and understandable, but all three losing the records of the same incident looks extremely questionable. The O'Rourke family, have been seeking justice for Patrick for 34 years. 
In a shock development the O’Rourke Family received a letter from Superintendent Smith at Drogheda Garda Station on 6th February of this year stating “Please be advised that a copy of the investigation file has been located.” This in itself while welcomed caught the family by surprise but more shocking was what followed on that letter was the statement:
The matter was fully investigated and a file forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions. A prosecution subsequently followed. The defendant in the Matter (Garda Richie Culhane) was found guilty of a number of offences. The Director of Public Prosecutions was informed accordingly. A copy of this file has been provided to the minister of Justice and Equality in response of 6th January, 2015.

Now out of this come more Questions then answers:

  • If found Guilty of a crime how did Garda Richie Culhane go on to rise in the ranks of An Garda Siochana only to retire in 2009?
  • How did he become Mayor of Drogheda, the very Town where Patrick O’Rourke’s Family lived?
  • How was Richie Culhane selected as a Fine Gael Candidate, and is now a sitting Fine Gael Councillor? 
  • Why or how is Fine Gael Councillor Richie Culhane the spokesperson on Road Safety if he was found guilty of Crime that may have resulted in the Death of a person?
  • It appears from these revelations that persons unknown within the justice system are doing everything possible to prevent Justice for the family why is this?
On December 22ND 2014 the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) requested that Superintendent Smith of Drogheda Garda Station appoint a senior investigating officer to investigate this case giving 10 days to do so some 9 weeks later still hasn’t happened why? 
On behalf of Geraldine O'Rourke DDI spokesmen Ben Gilroy and Anthony Connor are calling on the Minister for Justice and Equality to make a statement on this matter in the Dáil.  
Minister Fitzgerald must reassure the public that "equality" in the application of law is the bedrock of our Irish Justice System, and that no body or agency operates outside that maxim; because if this is not the case and there is a protected class in this country, then people will very quickly lose all respect for and trust in the Irish Justice System.
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