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Saturday, June 18, 2016

Who speaks now for Michael Galvin

                                                             Michael Galvin

On May 28, 2015 Michael Galvin shot himself inside a Ballyshannon Garda Station. He was 48 years old. His death is indicative of many things wrong with our justice systems.The endless waiting to be charged or not charged is just one of them. Michael, on what is known, is permanently maligned now among others, alive or dead, that was wrongfully investigated, found themselves inside a courtroom, and if not there, in the court of public opinion just below the steps of the courthouse. Yes, you have the right to know you are investigated but there is also the principled right to have it done in a timely manner. What was the delay and indeed what was the criminal charge? There never was one. 

The defence of the GSOC by their own members and this latest and pathetic judicial enquiry  is shabby and sloppy at best and who now speaks for Michael but those trying to mitigate their actions in an endless blame game that sets out to only speak for themselves. It is the usual actions of any organisation put under scrutiny where scrutiny itself here, with the GSOC, is supposed be their business. If Michael’s case is the yardstick by which we measure their actions, reform itself may not be enough as the actions that led to this man’s death calls for more than affirmative actions but legal and criminal accountability. 

The 'part report' about the GSOC and the Gardai by a judicial enquiry is not a report at all but just the usual stuff of ‘he said’ and ‘she said’ for truth is always a three sided coin and one side of this story is still missing. The report said that the decision by GSOC investigators was taken “bona fide” (in good faith) and that it was “at least in part” due to the legal uncertainty regarding the commencement of a criminal investigation. Because of these lame factors, there was no legal uncertainty with them when they decided not to inform Michael Galvin and another two officers as well that they were being investigated. These officers also gave statements still not knowing that they were suspects in a criminal investigation and that legal certainty for them lasted over three months. When they, the GSOC, decided to act at all, Michael was already dead, and only to his widow and his three children were left to be informed that, no, they should have told him sooner, silly mistake, and he has no charges to answer to. A serial killer or worse would know he/she was being investigated and a legal obligation would have been fulfilled. Michael Galvin and his colleges were not given that basic constitutional and human right. 

Those words ‘in good faith’ are lightweight in tandem with the words: ‘mistake’. What happened here was more than a mistake but a travesty of the spirit of what justice means and a gross abuse of power by the GSOC. The Government published only part of the Clarke inquiry report, citing the usual ‘legal reasons’ though clearly showing who they support and it is not Michael Galvin's family. There are rogue cops and one too many to count but a wrong will never make a right. 

Someone should answer to the courts for Michael's death and that someone should include those inside the GSOC and its legal affairs department that were involved in the investigation from the outset. No suicide stands alone for there is always a trail of tears to that action. The only thing now that can help Michael Galvin's family is to make ensure that his trail of tears that led to his death matter, and that what happened to Michael will not happen to another for no one is above the law and not least of those in the judicial system and the GSOC.

Barry Clifford