MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS .......
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 .
Even supposing that Jack Mahon is wrong about the time , due to the amount of drink he had taken , there is other evidence to suggest that James Keegan could not have carried out everything he was supposed to have done in the four minutes between 2.45am and 2.49am .
Dr. Donohue was called to Granard garda station and arrived at 3.05am , sixteen minutes after the discovery of the body ; he noticed no piece of blanket hanging from the bars of the cell and , in fact , did not even know that James Keegan had hanged himself . He had been treating James Keegan for a heart complaint and thought that the man had suffered a heart attack . He proceeded to administer a heart stimulent - to no effect . In any event it made no difference . On the RTE News the following morning , the doctor heard that James Keegan had hanged himself ; he visited the garda station again . He saw the torn piece of blanket tied to the cell bars .
Two post mortems were carried out : the first was done by a Dr. Cunnane , and the second was performed by State Pathologist Dr. John Harbison . While their findings were slightly different , they were not inconsistent . Dr. Harbison found that death was due to asphyxia (lack of air to the lungs) and cerebral anoxia (compression of arteries and veins in the neck) . In effect , James Keegan died not from hanging , but from strangulation which was self inflicted.......
THE QUALITY OF JUSTICE IS STRAINED.......
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 .
People have died in Garda Stations in circumstances where the State accepted responsibility and paid compensation to relatives . People have been ill-treated in Garda stations and this has been accepted by the Courts . In no case has it been possible to find evidence to convict any garda responsible . A death in Bunratty , in County Clare , has never been satisfactorily explained . The failure to come to terms with these isolated incidents can only damage the very high reputation of the Garda , a reputation and a public acceptance which is envied by police forces throughout the democratic world * . ( * '1169...' Comment - .......or at least in Garda Headquarters !)
Irish (sic- 26-County State) courts , Judges and justices have shown an amazing inconsistency in passing sentence on convicted criminals . A foreign national recently walked free after being convicted of the possession of a very substantial quantity of herion : it was speculated widely that an address in certain parts of Dublin could have earned that woman a sentence of up to 10 years .
People whose work takes them to the District Courts on a regular basis claim that , very often , justice is of the 'hit and miss' variety , with sentencing apparently at the whim of the particular District Justice in some cases.......
A HARD 'OUL STATION : LIFE ON THE STREETS .......
From 'NEW HIBERNIA' magazine , March 1987 .
At 2.15am there are about twelve men and women in the kitchen area : some of them are chatting and some of them are asleep on the floor . Tea is available for them right through the night . The two women that were found sleeping in a doorway only a short while ago are annoyed that there is no bed for them , but finally accept that they will have to try and get the head down in the kitchen . It is warmer there than the doorway of a bookshop .
Once the co-workers have gone , plans get underway for the breakfast which will be served at nine in the morning , then the preparation for the lunch begins . Some of the residents will help out in the shelter if they stay . Dinner is always between 7pm and 7.30 pm - the routine is always the same and the faces seldom change .
Some of the residents live in hope of bettering their plight , others are doomed to live out their lives moving from shelter to shelter or from doorway to doorway , trying to hold on to what little they have left.......