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George Nkencho inquest adjourned as demonstrators gather at RDS to 'stand in solidarity' with family

The inquest has been adjourned as the GSOC investigation is ongoing.

Protesters outside the RDS in Dublin as the inquest opens for George Nkencho.
Protesters outside the RDS in Dublin as the inquest opens for George Nkencho.
Image: PA

Updated Jun 21st 2021, 10:55 AM

THE INQUEST INTO the death of George Nkencho has been adjourned for six months as the GSOC investigation remains ongoing.

The inquest formally opened this morning in the Dublin coroner’s court held in the RDS before being adjourned until Tuesday 14 December.

A group of demonstrators gathered outside the RDS in support of the family members who attended the inquest opening. 

George Nkencho (27) was shot dead by gardaí outside his home in Clonee, Co Dublin in December 2020.

He was shot multiple times by gardaí while allegedly brandishing a knife. Nkencho was suffering from mental health issues at the time.

A GSOC investigation is currently underway. It’s expected to be completed by the end of this year. 

An inquest is held for any death that occurred due to an unnatural cause. Inquests are adjourned until any related investigations are completed. 

PXL_20210621_102018331.MP Demonstrators outside the RDS this morning. Source: The Journal

The Nkencho family was represented in the coroner’s court today by solicitors from Phelim O’Neill Solicitors and Harringtons LLP Solicitors.

Following the adjournment, a statement read out by the solicitors on behalf of the Nkencho family said it would “urge the court” in its preparation for the inquest to consider the specific circumstances and the wider and broader circumstances of the death of a young black man “at the hands of white police officers”. 

The statement said evidence in the inquest is hoped to help dispel the “nasty lies” and “rumours” that have been “maliciously disseminated” since George Nkencho’s death last year.

They asked for the inquest to not be limited to a thorough investigation of the relevant circumstances of this one specific death, but to take in its view the “broader circumstances” of George Nkencho’s death.

george-nkencho-inquest George Nkencho's parents Blessing and Frank and his sister Grateful speaking to media outside the RDS in Dublin. Source: PA

The statement said the family believe these “resonate with other circumstances internationally”. 

The coroner Dr Myra Cullinane said she has not been able to examine the circumstances yet around this death as the inquest cannot commence until the GSOC investigation is complete.

She expressed her “deepest condolences on the tragic circumstances” of the death with family members present. 

The coroner also outlined to the court that the cause of death was due to multiple gunshot wounds to the trunk with no other contributory factors.

Outside the court, a statement from the Nkencho family read by Grateful Nkencho said the inquest is a “necessary milestone” but reopens the “horrors” of what happened in December.

“This can never, never happen again,” she said.

A family friend of the Nkenchos, Olubukola Ashaolu Shopeju, said: “No other young person should die in this way.

“We shall not rest nor leave no stone unturned until the truth emerges and he gets a deserving justice.”

She said the black community in Dublin 15 – “especially young black men and boys” – experience issues with racial profiling, classism, intimidation and assault.

“It is not a crime to be young, black and drive a car. It is not a crime to be young, black and be with your friends,” she said.

Activist groups gathered near the RDS to show support for Nkencho’s family members.

Former Dublin West TD and activist Ruth Coppinger was in attendance. She said demonstrators wanted to “give support to the family themselves on such a harrowing day”. 

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“What happened to George has to be fully and properly investigated,” she told The Journal last week. 

A number of organisations including the Justice for George Nkencho Coalition, Youth Against Racism and Inequality (YARI) and United Against Racism attended today’s demonstration. 

An activist with YARI, Peter McGregor, said the demonstrators wanted to “stand in solidarity” with George Nkencho’s family members on the day. 

“This is quite an important day – the opening of an inquest – so it’s a great opportunity to bring to light the questions that were asked almost six months ago now,” he said. 

On Friday Gloria Nkencho, George’s sister, called for solidarity among activists ahead of the inquest into her brother’s death.

“I believe what happened to my brother points to a larger issue that’s present here – the way minorities are policed, classism, and huge issues with the mental health sector in Ireland,” Gloria said during a Zoom event organised by YARI.

george-nkencho-inquest Protesters outside the RDS today. Source: PA

She added that there are issues in Ireland with racism and classism – “what class you belong to sometimes determines sometimes how you’re going to be treated in society, and the colour of your skin plays a factor in it.”

In April, the Justice for George Nkencho Coalition, a group of family members and activists, issued a statement calling for a number of measures, including an independent public inquiry into the shooting.

The group said the fatal incident was “exploited by racists, fascists and far-rights” in order to “whip up negative sentiments in our beautiful communities”. 

They called for engagement within the Dublin 15 community, increased mental health services and for public officials and gardaí to work with community leaders on local policing issues. 

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