Thursday 18 January 2018

'Horrendous' - how tragic garda described GSOC interview before his death

Gda Sgt Michael Galvin in his role as Sligo manager in 2009
Gda Sgt Michael Galvin in his role as Sligo manager in 2009

Greg Harkin

THE wife of Gda Sgt Michael Galvin told his funeral Mass that his treatment during a probe by the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission was "horrendous".

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald was briefed by garda colleagues yesterday that Sgt Galvin had told his wife about his fears of a jail sentence on the day he was interviewed under caution by GSOC.

That occurred on May 20. Sgt Galvin took his own life at Ballyshannon Garda Station in Co Donegal eight days later.

It has since emerged he had been cleared of any wrongdoing by the GSOC inquiry days before his death but no-one had told him.

Fr Oliver Kelly, his parish priest at Manorhamilton in Leitrim, told the Sean O'Rourke show on RTE Radio that Sgt Galvin's wife Colette spoke at the end of his funeral Mass, and told of the fears that he had expressed to her following the interview.

"She spoke about Michael and the good man and good husband he was, how he put other people first," Fr Kelly said.

He added that she spoke about how upset he was by the GSOC investigation, and how he "felt that his future at the gardai was at jeopardy" which was a huge issue for "such a conscentious man"

She also revealed his upset at the manner of the interview under caution.

"'Horrendous' was the word he used," Fr Kelly siad. "He came back from it very, very shaken."

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) also gave details of the case to Minister Fitzgerald in the Dáil yesterday.

The association’s leader, John Redmond, has 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.

GSOC has refused a request to stand down from its inquiry into Sgt Galvin’s death despite a request from his widow Collette. It has now also extended its original investigation.

Gardaí in Ballyshannon aren’t allowed to speak out, but friends say they are ‘raging mad’ and also want a review by a High Court or Supreme Court judge.

Mr Redmond said: “We appreciate the minister met with us and listened to what we had to say on the situation as we know it at this stage.

“However, we believe there is no confidence whatsoever in GSOC continuing their investigations.

“We need to know why Sgt Galvin came away from a cautioned interview with GSOC to tell his wife he believed he was going to jail for five years when GSOC completely exonerated him a few days later.”

The Garda Representative Association, which represents 10,000 gardaí, also backed calls for a judicial review.

“Garda colleagues in the North West, and nationwide, are dismayed that GSOC be regarded as an appropriate agency to investigate the death of Sgt Michael Galvin, who was highly regarded by those gardaí who had the honour of working with him,” they said.

Irish Independent

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