Rossiters to boycott inquiry into son's death

The parents of Brian Rossiter have decided to boycott the inquiry into their son’s death, and the story was making the rounds in the evening news stories yesterday. McDowell was on Morning Ireland this morning to give his view, you can listen to that here.

He argued that the fees are reasonable, while the hack on Morning Ireland argued that the Garda Representative Association (GRA) may end up helping the Gardai involved by paying extra for the more expensive (read ‘better’) Senior Counsels. Some SC’s can charge as much as 3-4000 euro per day, while the Rossiter’s have been given a fee of €1008 a day.

Conor Lally and Joe Humphries report in the Irish Times:

He said a daily fee of €1,008 had been offered for senior counsel, €720 for junior counsel and €800 for a solicitor.

However, because there was no provision for payment for preparatory work or for expenses incurred during the hearing, the Rossiters could not take part in the inquiry.

“I think everybody is going to have to get used to the daily fee, but if the Minister thinks this works like a district court, where you just stand up and talk, that’s not how it works,” Mr O’Carroll said.

He was having difficulty finding a senior counsel who was available and willing to take on the work because they were not going to be paid for their preparation.

Mr O’Carroll also said that because he was based in Cashel and Clonmel, the lack of any expenses on offer was a cause of considerable difficulty.

“They won’t be [able to attend], it’s as simple as that. And we should not be expected to hand over any of the information we have gathered over the last three years if I am not there to represent the interests of my clients,” he said.

Mr McDowell said he regretted the Rossiters hadn’t availed of the “generous legal fees” he had provided for lawyers in the inquiry.

The inquiry had statutory powers to request people to attend whether or not they had a lawyer.

The Minister said all solicitors and barristers were being paid the same rate for all commissions of inquiry in accordance with recently passed legislation. This followed “a pattern of higher fees which has been the subject of much public criticism”.

While some lawyers might have “ingrained expectations” for the old pattern of fees, a new era had arrived and expectations would move to reflect that.

Mr O’Carroll told The Irish Times he has also informed the chairman of the statutory inquiry, Hugh Hartnett SC, that the Rossiter family believed the inquiry’s terms of reference were too narrow.

They were concerned the inquiry was taking place in closed session and could not be reported on by the media. The inquiry proper is expected to begin next week.

Brian Rossiter was found unconscious in a cell in Clonmel Garda station on the morning of September 11th, 2002, following his arrest on suspicion of a public order offence the previous night.

He was taken to St Joseph’s hospital in Clonmel and later transferred to Cork University Hospital but never regained consciousness and died there on September 13th, 2002.

Four weeks ago Mr McDowell announced that Mr Hartnett would conduct the inquiry into the death. The dead boy’s parents, Pat and Siobhan, are also pursuing a civil action.

They have questioned the appropriateness of establishing an inquiry under Section 12 of the Dublin Police Act, 1924, which Mr O’Carroll has said means the inquiry is “in essence a Garda Sa­ochana disciplinary forum”.

Mr Hartnett will have the power to summon witnesses and to examine them under oath.