Wednesday, August 16, 2006

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 .

Jimmy Keegan lived with his brother three miles outside Granard , a small town in north County Longford : he was fifty-four years old and had been a cattle drover all his life . In the 1940's , '50s and '60s there was a good living to be made from cattle droving but , as marts began to replace fairs , Jimmy Keegan found that his livelihood was being eroded .

Some cattle drovers bought lorries and became more professional - others , for one reason or another , did not , including James Keegan . He was fond of drink and spent most of his money in that way . As a degree of prosperity made itself apparent in the 1960's he was left behind . In the 1970's and 1980's he survived by what he got from the dole and by selling ash plants to farmers at the local mart for one pound at a time . Locals regarded him as 'harmless' - he might make a nuisance of himself by singing in bars or on the street but he was never considered nasty or violent .

He was occasionally barred from pubs in Granard for his tendency to sing and generally create annoyance and he was well known to the gardai in the town . Sometimes they would pick him up and leave him home , or leave him in the garda station to sober up . He suffered from alcoholism , and he had a heart condition.......


There is a crisis among the Gardai in Kerry and it is much deeper than one of morale . For years the Kerry Detective force has enjoyed a free hand in dealing with Section 30 cases in this heavily Republican county .
But the free rein given in these cases has had the inevitably corrupting effect . Now individual Gardai are being fingered for conduct that most of them had taken for normal : the heat is now on . Only the fall-guys remain to be named .......
From 'The Phoenix' magazine , February 1985 .

Rathmore schoolteacher Noel O' Sullivan died on the 28th of December 1981 after a visit to Kenmare Garda Station in the south of the county of Kerry . This case is now being openly spoken of as Kerry's Shercock .

According to the report of Cork City coroner , Con Riordan , Noel O' Sullivan's death was as a result of "...extradural haemorrhage and contusion of the brain due to fracture of the skull caused by trauma to the head " . The position at the moment is that civil proceedings were begun in January 1983 and are still awaiting trial .

James Sheehan was arrested under Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act in the summer of 1982 . He had 12 or 13 previous arrests : he was taken to Tralee Garda Station where , he alleges , local detectives told him they wanted 'yes' answers to a series of questions . He alleges they beat him and that , in the course of the beating , a window was broken and his hand was cut . He was then handcuffed and dragged by the hair to another room . The questioning continued.......

From 'NEW HIBERNIA' magazine , March 1987 .

At around 7.45pm some of the co-workers arrive for their shift , and the full-time workers have a chance to go off for a pint or whatever until they come back again at 11.30pm . Again , like the full-time workers , the co-workers (part-timers) are a friendly bunch . A good many of the residents have gone off to bed at this stage , some of them are still sitting around in the kitchen area , chatting amongst themselves , and others are just sitting there looking on with blank expressions on their faces .

Downstairs in a small room another group of co-workers have arrived in to give up some of their time to the Simon Community . They will go out on the streets and visit people who are sleeping rough and give them soup and sandwiches . The 'soup run' takes place every night between 10.00pm and 2.00am and those working on it have full time jobs during the day - they are mainly young people and are drawn from all walks of life . They will split up into small groups , depending on the number of cars that are available , and some of those groups will visit people living in flats that Simon have managed to find for them while another group will seek out people sleeping rough .

The co-workers will arrive in the shelter anytime after 8.30pm to make the soup and the sandwiches : tonight it is beef , cheese and egg sandwiches as well as French onion soup and tea . One of the residents who seems to have been wandering around the shelter all day sits down and looks at the assembled night crew who , before they actually set off , are being 'paired' and having their destinations designated . On the way out one of the girls smiles and says to the rest " Let's be careful out there..." Too right - Dublin's Buckingham Street and its environs may not be like Hill Street but it sure is a tough area.......