Wednesday, September 06, 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's family was represented at the inquest . There was also a Garda Superintendent there who intervened from time to time . And the gardai had another solicitor : at times , the representative of the (State) Attorney General was interrupted on the grounds that his questions were considered irrelevant .

It has been said that inquests raise more questions than they answer - the inquest into the death of James Keegan would appear to be no exception , despite the attempts by the representative of the (State) Attorney General to put as broad an interpretation as possible on the rules of the inquest , to wit : who died , where did they die , when did they die and how did they die . As the jury brought in their verdict , one observer remarked " Why did'nt the guards just bring him home...?
(Next - 'THE WALLACE AND HOLROYD FILE' : from 1987)

Allegations of Garda brutality only hit the headlines intermittently . But the problem may be much more widespread than most people imagine . Last year out-of-court settlements of cases involving members of the Garda cost the taxpayer over €1 million . What's going on ?
From 'MAGILL' magazine , April 2003 .
By Mairead Carey.

As a compromise between this magazine and the 'Information Commission' (which supervises the workings of the 'Freedom of Information Act') , 'Magill' magazine was given details of two sample incidents which appeared on last year's list in return for dropping a case to the Office of the Information Commissioner , which could have taken over a year .

The first of these claims against the Gardai occurred in the Bridewell Garda Station in Dublin - the total bill to the taxpayer was almost €100,000 : the events which led to the settlement were as follows ;

" The plaintiff , while under arrest , claimed that he was pushed on the way into the Garda station and that his head went through one of the glass panels in the door . The four Garda members who witnessed the incident stated that the plaintiff lunged at the door with the intention of inflicting an injury to himself . The case was settled on the advice of senior counsel and the Office of the Attorney General ." The amount of the settlement was €57,138 and 50 cents , but legal costs brought the claim up to €99,457. No disciplinary procedures were brought against any of the gardai involved and no complaint was made to the Garda Complaints Board .

A second incident involved four gardai from the Bridewell , Store Street and Fitzgibbon Street stations . The plaintiff alleged that the gardai broke in the door where he resides with his parents and assaulted him during a raid . He also alleged that he was harassed by the gardai . The gardai explained the incident by saying officers were following up a report of a possible burglary when they noticed somebody who looked like the plaintiff leaving a house holding something in his hand . " The members requested him to stop , and when he failed to do so , they went in pursuit . One of the members chased the plaintiff into the house , which required the member to push the door open , damaging the lock . When the other occupants - the plaintiff's parents - came from the kitchen it was acknowledged that the plaintiff was not one of the people the gardai were looking for ."

In that instance , the plaintiff and his parents sued but the case never went to court ; the plaintiff settled for €31,743 and 61 cents , his parents each received half that amount , and costs in the case were €56,087 . A complaint was made to the Garda Complaints Board but was not upheld . No disciplinary proceedings were ever taken against the gardai involved.......

Vincent Browne is the nearest thing to Robert Maxwell that Ireland has got - in style , if not in scale .
From 'PHOENIX' magazine , 1985.

Vincent Browne told a shocked staff early last year that Guinness Peat Aviation boss , Tony Ryan , had threatened " beat the shit.." out of him at a Board meeting in the GPA boss's house !

The row with Tony Ryan underlined most of Browne's and The Sunday Tribune's problems ; Tony Ryan was willing to fund a loss-making operation for one , two or even three years , but he wanted to know to what end his losses were being put , and so insisted , in spite of Browne's tantrums , on installing his protege , Eugene O' Neill , as Managing Director . Vincent Browne , however , had become accustomed to the multiple role of editor , managing director and financial controller . This meant that none of those functions were being carried out properly . As one journalist at the time remarked - " The 'Tribune' is like Dallas , except that Browne's editorial style is like JR , and his business acumen is closer to that of Cliff Barnes . "

Tony Ryan soon decided to cut his losses and quit , albeit with a financial stranglehold over the company's future in the form of a secured claim for half-a-million pounds : the radicals on the newspaper's staff were not happy to see their big , bad capitalist depart , as they were left with a small , bad one with no money to guarantee future jobs . Having persuaded his long-standing friend and colleague , Gordon Colleary , head of USIT travel company , to fund the paper's weekly losses for a few months , Browne got down to editing the paper . The Tribune's political and investigative features have improved markedly since then , and the paper has began to develop a definite character . But even when Vincent Browne performs journalistically , as only he can , feathers are ruffled and enemies are made.......