Monday, August 21, 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 .

As Garda Eugene Watters was handing James Keegan over to Garda John Boyle , he heard shouting on the street ; it was Jack Mahon - he had been in the town for twelve hours and spent most of that time moving from pub to pub . Garda Eugene Watters went outside and arrested Jack Mahon for being drunk and incapable and handed him over to Garda John Boyle : both James Keegan and Jack Mahon were placed in separate cells .

As Station Orderly , Garda John Boyle had certain responsibility towards the two prisoners ; his responsibilities involved taking charge of the two men , carrying out a search , removing any objects with which they might harm themselves , securing them in their cells and looking after their well-being . In order to look after their well-being , he was obliged to check them every fifteen minutes . The garda in charge is also obliged to write into the Station Diary anything found on a prisoner . In James Keegan's case , a box of matches and an old cigarette butt were allegedly found and removed , but no mention was made of this in the Station Diary . In any case , blood pressure tablets and Librium were afterwards found on James Keegan which the garda had apparently failed to locate .

Twelve midnight : Garda John Boyle says he checked both men from the doorway leading into the cells , but did not actually go in to check . He says that he was reluctant to go in because both men were shouting or singing at various times , and that Jack Mahon in particular was calling for immediate release . Between midnight and 1am , he says that he checked both men in this way . At 1.15am , Garda Boyle recorded that James Keegan was singing and that Jack Mahon was shouting.......


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 .

The Gardai's abuse of their powers usually comes to light only when they offend the powerful or articulate . Thus it was when - without warrant or invitation - the Gardai searched the hotel rooms of American delegates to the 'Ancient Order of Hibernians' Convention in Killarney , County Kerry , and seized a banner . When furious delegates realised that their rooms had been entered in their absence , they contacted their embassy to complain .

Shortly afterwards , an abject Detective Garda Kingston was despatched to explain to delegates that Gardai had searched their rooms 'soley to protect them from a possible subversive bomb attack' ! There was no credible explanation for the removal of the AOH banner .

[END of 'Kerry Garda Crisis']
(Next - ' The Quality of Justice is Strained' : from 1987.)

From 'NEW HIBERNIA' magazine , March 1987 .

The first port of call was a special meeting point down by Heuston Station , Dublin : at around 10.15pm , a group of three young men , in their early twenties , had gathered for the soup and sandwiches . Most other nights there are a few more . These young men were staying in the (Dublin) Corporation's Model Hostel nearby : it cost them 70p a night and they say that it is fairly strict there . Once out on the street the workers on the 'soup run' treat young and old alike - it is only in the hostel that the 'over forty' rule applies .

One of the young men is a chap called Pat , who came to Ireland almost a year ago to do a thesis on the country as part of his degree course at the University of New York . Pat spent some time in a flat but the landlord kept putting the rent up so he was forced to move out soon afterwards , and had no other alternative but to go to the Model Hostel . He soon found himself in trouble with the Gardai and is awaiting the decision of an appeal he has lodged on the case . In the meantime he can do nothing and he has been waiting for money to be sent from home , but it does'nt look like it is coming . The other two young men have very little to say for themselves , but are glad to get the hot soup and the sandwiches - it is freezing cold weather . They are also given some cigarettes .

Moving on to the fashionable area surrounding Molesworth Street we approach a small frail-looking woman named Mary , who is lying curled up in a ball in a doorway . The blankets cover her totally and she is sound asleep.......