Saturday 1 October 2016

'We want to know who's to blame' say crash victim Diana's family

Emma Jane Hade and Conor Feehan

Published 30/10/2015 | 02:30

Diana Harton
Diana Harton

The family of the late Diana Harton, an innocent woman who was killed after a Garda pursuit, launched a legal challenge against the force to determine who was at fault the night she died.

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Stuart Gilhooly, solicitor for the 43-year-old's four siblings and father, said the family are anxious to establish who is to blame for her death.

"The family want to establish who was at fault," said Mr Gilhooly. "The inquest didn't provide that information but a civil action will determine liability."

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe also said lessons need to be learned.

"It's absolutely clear we have to reflect on lessons we have learned from that terrible incident, and do what we can to improve the training and support that's available to the gardaí as they do work that's risky to themselves and others," Mr Donohoe said.

Ms Harton died in her Citroen car on the M7 motorway close to Kildare village, after being struck by a car which was being chased by gardaí on October 23 last year.

An inquest into her death on Tuesday heard officers on duty that night were not adequately trained to deal with the high-speed pursuit.

Gardaí have said they are reviewing code 35.41, which deals directly with pursuits, but refused to give a timeline as to when it will be completed.

"It's very disappointing that we heard nothing about the review till Tuesday and have no timeline for its completion," Mr Gilhooly said.

The solicitor also said the family would like an investigation as to why gardaí were allowed to "engage in pursuits of this nature without any knowledge of their own code or proper training".

"Given that this appears to be increasingly part of their work, the family would prefer if the Minister was more positive in his determination to remedy this lacuna," he added.

The Irish Independent revealed yesterday that many Garda drivers are not qualified to take part in high-speed chases or emergency responses due to cutbacks.

The family have now commenced civil action against the An Garda Síochána, the Motor Insurers Bureau and the driver of the car which collided with her, John Joyce, who admitted in court he was drinking at the time of the accident.

The Hartons are also "extremely anxious" the recommendations from the jury at the inquest are implemented.

Concerns

David Seavers, whose mother Mary was killed 10 years ago by an out-of-control Garda car responding to an emergency call, also voiced his concerns.

He has warned that a lack of action on recommendations made by coroners at inquests means future incidents are likely to continue happening.

"There are a lot of very good gardaí out there but they are let down by management, the culture and some of their colleagues," he said.

"We need to ask what happens when a coroner makes recommendations. Is it anyone's responsibility to check they are implemented? Does anything change?" he asked.

Irish Independent

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