Friday, August 18, 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 .

James Keegan had been hospitalised on several occasions for a heart condition and alcoholism . In September 1986 he spent three weeks in Lisdarn Hospital in Cavan for heart problems . On 25 September 1986 , he was just four days out of hospital ; on that day , he left his home , located about three miles from Granard , and went into town to collect the dole .

At around 3pm , James Keegan was seen by Ban Garda Mary Doogue outside McEvoy's Chemist shop : he went over to talk to her . She did not think he was drunk . James Keegan often talked to her when he saw her on the street . Half an hour later he climbed into a van belonging to Gerry Maguire who was delivering eggs . Maguire was afraid that James Keegan might fall in front of a car so he left him home . Later that day Keegan thumbed a lift back into Granard .

Around 10.15pm , Ban Garda Mary Doogue saw James Keegan again - this time he was standing at a corner with a bottle of stout in his hand . At 11.50pm , Garda Eugene Watters and Garda David Martin were driving in their patrol car and as they passed the Greville Arms Hotel , a man staggered out onto the road - he had a bottle of stout in his hands and , according to the Gardai , he was shouting a lot . Garda Eugene Watters arrested the man for being drunk and incapable , brought him to the Garda Barracks and handed him over to Garda John Boyle , who was the Station Orderly for the night.......


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 .

James Sheehan was handcuffed and dragged by the hair to another room in Tralee Garda Station , where the questioning continued . Shortly afterwards , a senior detective came into the room and , seeing the wound on Sheehan's hand , decided he needed stitches . Sheehan was brought , still handcuffed , to the hospital where he received three sets of stitches to his hand , and was then returned to the Garda Barracks in Tralee : he signed nothing and was released after 24 hours .

In the same year (1982) , another Irish Republican , Gerald Shea , was brought to Tralee Garda Barracks and he too managed to have an altercation with a window (!) in an upper-floor room of the building . Gerald Shea required a dozen stitches .

Mick Day was arrested under Section 30 in the summer of 1981 , in the Cahirciveen area of Kerry . He was taken to the local Garda station where he spent an hour before being taken all the way to Killarney : there , he alleges , he was subjected to severe brutality which was way beyond the 'norm' . Local Republicans estimate it as the worst beating since the 1970's . Mick Day signed nothing and was released after 48 hours . Two days later , he was admitted to hospital where he spent a week .
Next - 'THE AOH CASE.......'

From 'NEW HIBERNIA' magazine , March 1987 .

It is decided that I will go out with Peter and Anna and drive around the city looking for the people who are sleeping rough . Peter is the boss for the night - he is a tall , friendly Franciscan Brother living in Leopardstown , Dublin , while Anna is a warm and jolly person who works in a solicitor's office . They know exactly where to go , as word gets around very easily .

The people that sleep rough in Dublin are mainly very private people - very few of them will go into the shelter for the night as some of them stay away because they have drink problems , whilst others have serious psychiatric issues . It takes a great deal of time and patience to make friends with them and win over their confidence . Most of them have been on the streets for years , and anybody familiar with Dublin at all would recognise the faces .

Seeing them curled up like little babies and covered over with blankets in a doorway can be somewhat depressing , especially if it is 1.00 am and almost below freezing point.......