Wednesday 16 January 2019

Garda who took his own life didn't know he had been cleared by GSOC

Gda Sgt Michael Galvin in his role as Sligo manager in 2009
Gda Sgt Michael Galvin in his role as Sligo manager in 2009
Gda Sgt Galvin’s funeral in Manorhamilton

Greg Harkin

The Garda Ombudsman has launched an internal review after a garda sergeant took his own life not knowing he had been cleared days earlier of any wrongdoing following a formal investigation.

Gda Sgt Michael Galvin told friends he feared he would go to jail and in the early hours of last Thursday he used a garda issue handgun to take his own life at Ballyshannon Garda Station in Co Donegal.

The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) admitted to the Irish Independent last night that Sgt Galvin had in fact been cleared of any wrongdoing five days earlier but a formal letter confirming this had not been issued.

Senior gardaí are to meet Ombudsman staff today about the case. There is considerable anger within the force.

Widow Colette Galvin got a standing ovation from hundreds of gardaí and friends as she spoke at the funeral of husband Gda Michael Galvin where she described the investigation as 'horrendous'.

Friends and colleagues wept at St Clare's Church in Manorhamilton, Co Leitrim as Colette Galvin recalled her life with her husband and their three children.

"Mick was a great, loving and caring man - a rock," she said.

"He was a man who loved his job. I was introduced to him in Tuff's Night Club in Sligo in October 1997 when he was the captain of the Sligo football and hurling teams. He was my Roy Keane.

"I often asked him which of his achievements he was most proud of and he always pointed to our three children.

"He gave his life to the job and I hope that after today all decent and honest members of An Garda Síochána will be allowed to do their jobs without horrendous and unnecessary investigations by GSOC."

Mourners which included Deputy Commissioner Kieran Kenny responded with a three-minute standing ovation.

Sgt Galvin was being investigated as a result of a fatal road traffic incident in Ballyshannon in the early hours of New Year's day this year.

Sheena Stewart (33), from Letterkenny, died when she was struck by a minibus taxi in the town.

Sgt Galvin had driven past Ms Stewart earlier that morning on his way to investigate a hit-and-run incident outside the south Donegal town.

When asked if he had seen Ms Stewart, he had told Ombudsman investigators that he believed he had seen her standing on a footpath in Ballyshannon.

CCTV footage however showed she had been standing at the edge of the road when the garda patrol car passed her.

Friends say Sgt Galvin was then interviewed under caution. He later told them that he may face a criminal charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Sgt Galvin had an exemplary record and was widely known in GAA circles having managed the Sligo hurling team. More than 2,500 people attended his funeral on Sunday, many of them from GAA clubs in Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal.

GSOC confirmed in a statement to the Irish Independent that Sgt Galvin would not have faced any charges, a spokesperson saying: "This decision was reached ten days ago but a letter confirming this (to Sgt Galvin) had not been issued.

"We are conducting an internal review of all the circumstances of the case."

Irish Independent

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