Garda Sergeant Michael Galvin took his own life at Ballyshannon Garda Station in Donegal last Thursday- he was not aware he had been cleared of any wrong-doing in the investigation into a fatal road traffic incident in Ballyshannon on New Year's Day.
Today John Redmond of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors said he felt compelled to highlight the stress felt by Sgt. Michael Galvin in the weeks leading up to his sudden death.
In a statement the the AGSI said: 'Sgt. Galvin had an impeccable record of service and loyalty to An Garda Síochána and often went beyond the call of duty.
We awoke this morning to gravely worrying statements published in the media, which stated that Sgt. Galvin was not informed that he had no case to answer following an investigation into him by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC). We must ask also – how did the media access such information when Sgt. Galvin could not?
I would however like to directly respond to GSOC’s public statement issued earlier today. While they suggest that, “Sgt. Galvin was not, nor ever was, the subject of a complaint to GSOC”, this is not how Sgt. Galvin felt. Indeed GSOC’s approach to their business and how they communicate with our members is less than satisfactory.
AGSI members are deeply hurt and traumatised, as indeed are all members of the force, following the death of their colleague and friend last week. It has now been publicly reported that Sgt. Galvin, who has given impeccable service to the force, was not guilty of any wrongdoing following a GSOC investigation into an incident in Donegal earlier this year, but this was not communicated to him, and it clearly should have been.
It is unfair for GSOC to attempt to detract attention away from their glaring communications failures and point in the direction of the DPP.
That the Commission would come to a conclusion that there was “no evidence of criminal behaviour or a breach of discipline” and not inform the person involved or the Garda organisation is beyond belief. The question over the GSOC further investigation now into the untimely death of Sgt. Galvin does not sit well with this Association or Michael’s family. They are devastated by the tragedy and are very annoyed with GSOC and the way they carried out their investigation into this matter. I have no doubt they will make that clear in the future.
AGSI has previously publicly stated our concerns relating to how GSOC carries out its business and we once again re-assert those concerns. Unfortunately we do so in the absence of our colleague.
AGSI will now seek a meeting with the Minister for Justice & Equality to deal with this sorry affair and to to press home our concerns about how GSOC are dealing with our members.
The next step must surely be that the Taoiseach and the Government must act swiftly to cause an investigation to be carried out into the GSOC actions in this matter.
This Association feels that the presumption of innocence for an accused person is absent when GSOC is investigating men and women in An Garda Síochána. This is what our members tell us when they are the subject of such investigations. The approach they take when they are dealing with the Gardaí lacks compassion, understanding and the degree of fairness required in such circumstances, does not seem to exist.
The availability of a 24/7 welfare service is something which AGSI has asked for, for seven years now. It is more of a requirement now than ever.'