Monday 22 January 2018

Minister confirms judicial probe into GSOC handling of tragic garda's case

Greg Harkin

JUSTICE Minister Frances Fitzgerald last night confirmed a judicial inquiry will get underway to investigate the circumstances surrounding the tragic death of Garda Sergeant Michael Galvin.

Sgt Galvin took his own life at Ballyshannon Garda Station in Co Donegal last week, after being the subject of an investigation by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC).

The Irish Independent this week revealed how the father-of-three was actually cleared by GSOC before his death - but nobody had told him.

Yesterday it emerged that Sgt Galvin had told his wife about his fears of a jail sentence of up to five years on the day he was interviewed under caution by GSOC. Just eight days later he took his own life.

As rank and file gardaí demanded a complete overhaul of the Garda Ombudsman's office, the Justice Minister announced she will establish an independent judicial inquiry.

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) gave details of the case to Ms Fitzgerald in the Dáil yesterday. The association's leader, John Redmond, demanded that GSOC end its investigation into Sgt Galvin's death and asked the minister to set up an independent judicial inquiry into all matters including the fatal road crash on January 1 which sparked the GSOC inquiry in the first place.

Last night Ms Fitzgerald said she would initiate an inquiry by an independent judicial figure, in accordance with Section 109 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 into the conduct of the original GSOC investigation. She also said the GSOC investigation into the death of Sgt Galvin has been discontinued.

A statement from GSOC last night confirmed it was shutting down the investigation after listening to the concerns of Sgt Galvin's family and colleagues. It accepted the public concern had the potential to damage confidence in the garda oversight process, however, it claimed that much of the coverage had been "misleading, inaccurate and inflammatory".

"The situation in which we find ourselves is unforeseen in the legislation and we are taking this decisive action to bring our investigation to a close," it read.

A High Court or Supreme Court judge will now be nominated to conduct the inquiry and report back to the Minister.

Irish Independent

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