Wednesday, August 23, 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 .

At 1.30am , Garda John Boyle recorded in the Garda Station Diary that all was well and quiet , and he recorded something similar for 1.45am . But there is a problem in relation to both these entries in the Station Diary : there are two entries for the Diary for these times .

One entry had 'all quiet' , but the second entry had Jack Mahon shouting and James Keegan singing . Garda John Boyle explained the two entries by the fact that he was relieved at 2am and had to make sure the Diary was up to date when he was asked by Garda Eugene Watters . He had forgotten making the earlier entries . He made the second entries in a 'flurry' , because he was also dealing with correspondence at the time , he said . He denied at the inquest that he made the entries in the Diary other than at the time he checked the prisoners .

At 2am , Garda John Boyle went to a nearby house for a refreshment break and Garda Eugene Watters took over . At 2.12am , Garda Watters recorded that James Keegan was singing and that Jack Mahon was shouting . He was afterwards to say that he could not understand Jack Mahon and had no idea what he was shouting about other than a general desire to get out of the cell . At 2.30am , Garda Watters recorded that James Keegan was still singing and that Jack Mahon was still shouting to get out.......

Many who fully support the concept of law and order cannot but feel some disquiet about developments in recent years .
From 'New Hibernia' magazine , April 1987 .
('Editorial' page)

In this State and in Britain and the North of Ireland - the territories of main concern to Irish citizens in this regard - there has been some substantial , if not conclusive , evidence that the authorities are more concerned with maintaining 'order' than ensuring that a fair judicial system is seen to operate .

The Irish Government (sic) cannot fail to take note of events in Britain : apart from their duty * towards Irish people who have been forced to emigrate to earn a livelihood , there is the immediate issue of extradition . ( * '1169...' Comment : those self-serving career politicians in Leinster House see it as their 'duty' to fleece the electorate , to secure State contracts for their friends and supporters and to ensure that their own financial future is guaranteed by (mis)use of their Office . Time was when all this took place 'behind the scenes' , but not now : they are blatant about it , knowing that their own type will close ranks around them to protect them . Who knows - their colleagues may need similar assistance in the days ahead .)

Cases such as the Birmingham Six , the Guildford Four and the Maguires do little to re-assure many , both in Ireland and Britain , about the much-vaunted 'quality' of British justice . It is not so long ago that raising questions about cases such as these carried the risk of being branded a fellow-traveller of the IRA . Now that journalists - mainly British - have cast such huge doubts on those convictions , can there be many who are still satisfied that , in any or all of those cases , the bombers were the people who were convicted....... ?

From 'NEW HIBERNIA' magazine , March 1987 .

Buswells Hotel and Leinster House are a visible hive of activity . The last few seats in the General (ie 26 County) Election are being filled : the bar in Leinster House is crammed with the TD's (sic - Leinster House members) who will form the next administration . Mary , who sleeps in a doorway in Molesworth Street , could'nt give two tosses about them . She is cold . She lost her coat during the day and only has three blankets and a cardigan to keep her warm . She is glad of the soup and sandwiches . Mary has been sleeping rough for years , and every so often she mentions the fact that she is going back to London to live . She has been saying that for years . The social workers have tried their best to get her into the shelter but she reckons it would be the death of her .

Around the corner from Mary's miserable little night dwelling and the palatial splendour of Leinster House , Tom is also curled up and covered with lankets ; at first he does'nt know who it is that is interrupting his well deserved sleep , but soon recognises the friendly faces and sits up to have his soup and sandwiches . He tells us that he likes to go to the pictures - that he loves horror films . He does'nt like Crocodile Dundee , that Paul Hogan is a show-off ! Indeed , his knowledge of film is quite extensive : James Stewart is a "brilliant actor" , but John Wayne was another show-off . Barry Norman eat your heart out ! Tom asks us if Mary is alright . He was wondering where she was because he had'nt seen her all day . A group of people heading off in the direction of the fashionable Pink Elephant Nightclub look on . Tom complains about the noise coming from the club , and tells us that he went up and asked the
bouncers to turn the music down but they told him to "fuck off..." .

Ringsend is the next stop , to see a man called Pat.......