James Keegan died in Granard Garda Station last September (1986) . Earlier this month , an inquest was held in Longford to ascertain the cause of death.
The central question – how James Keegan managed to tear a blanket and hang himself within four minutes – still remains unanswered .
DEREK DUNNE reports.
From ‘IN DUBLIN’ magazine , February 1987 .

It was self-evident to the inquest that , taking both Jack Mahon’s evidence , along with that of Dr. John Harbison , at least ten minutes had elapsed between the time the tearing of the blanket took place and the time of death .

Garda John Boyle made three statements about the death : in the first he made no mention of the fact that he had taken a three-quarters of an hour break . Neither did he mention that the prisoners had been searched in his first statement . It was in his third statement that he clarified matters further by stating that he had checked the prisoners from the doorway . Garda Eugene Watters made three statements also about the death , while Garda David Martin made two statements .

The jury of three women and five men took just a few minutes to bring in a verdict in accordance with the medical evidence . They also added a rider to their verdict , which was aimed at the (State) Department of Justice , to the effect that the quality of blankets in cells could be improved to prevent further similar tragedies . The (State) Attorney General , in a highly unusual move , was represented at the inquest in order , he explained to the court , that events would be seen to proceed fairly…….

Allegations of Garda brutality only hit the headlines intermittently . But the problem may be much more widespread than most people imagine . Last year out-of-court settlements of cases involving members of the Garda cost the taxpayer over €1 million . What’s going on ?
From ‘MAGILL’ magazine , April 2003 .
Mairead Carey.

Last year (ie 2002) the taxpayer footed a bill of over €1 million in out-of-court settlements involving members of the Garda . On the list of these cases provided to ‘Magill’ magazine by the (State) Department of Justice under the Freedom of Information Act , no names are mentioned , no Garda stations listed . In fact , there is more information blacked out than revealed .

In the opinion of the deciding officer in the (State) Department of Justice , there are “…no public interest factors (requirement for openness , exposure of wrongdoing/corruption , mismanagement of public funds) in favour of release which outweigh the right to privacy of the individual to whom the information relates . “ Claims for assault and wrongful arrest are common , but no information is available to show whether or not the same gardai or even the same stations feature in different settlements .

Some of the largest claims apparently don’t warrant any description at all . The action by ‘Claimant 65’ in the year 2000 cost the taxpayer £225,000 but no information is given as to why that money was paid out…….

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Vincent Browne is the nearest thing to Robert Maxwell that Ireland has got – in style , if not in scale .
From ‘PHOENIX’ magazine , 1985.

Vincent Browne’s manner of handling awkward trade-unionists was best exemplified last week when he gave NUJ President-elect , Ray McGuigan , a shoulder-charge , followed up by a right hook to the body . Minutes earlier , a dismayed Sunday Tribune financial controller , Martin Dobey , had pulled Vincent Browne off Ray McGuigan , who had pleaded with Browne to re-enter negotiations on staffing-levels and back-monies promised to the paper’s journalists .

But the near-hatred that Vincent Browne engenders in many of his journalists and Dublin NUJ members is matched by bottomless admiration from many in the business world . The commercial staff of ‘The Sunday Tribune’ , too , venerate Browne who is seen as the dynamic saviour of a perpetually threatened newspaper .

The mini-magnate of Irish publishing is either loved or loathed , with most colleagues experiencing both emotions at different times depending on Browne’s vagaries or the prevailing circumstances . Guinness Peat Aviation boss , Tony Ryan , was at first enamoured of the editor’s tough , independent and dynamic character , and sank almost half a million pounds into the newspaper before relations between the two deteriorated almost to the level of last week’s encounter with Ray McGuigan…….

About 11sixtynine

A mother of three (and a Granny!) and a political activist , living in Dublin , Ireland.
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