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‘We are seeing changes’: Sister of George Nkencho calls for solidarity ahead of inquest

The formal inquest into George Nkencho’s death opens on Monday, but will be adjourned due to the ongoing GSOC investigation.

A candelit vigil in Blanchardstown
A candelit vigil in Blanchardstown
Image: PA

GLORIA NKENCHO, THE sister of George Nkencho, has called for solidarity among activists ahead of the start of the inquest into her brother’s death next week.

At a virtual event held over Zoom this evening, Gloria said that progress is being made towards equality, but that people need to speak up about racism to try to stem it.

Similarly, former Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger said that George’s death has brought up “huge” issues in Ireland.

The inquest into George Nkencho’s death opens at 10am in the Dublin District Coroner Court on Monday morning.

However, inquests are adjourned until related investigations are completed, and the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) investigation of his case is still ongoing, 

As such, the inquest on Monday will be adjourned shortly after it begins.

An inquest is held for any death that occurred due to an unnatural cause.

Over Zoom, Gloria Nkencho said: “I’m not an activist in any way, I’m just here due to unfortunate circumstances that have put me in the position that I am where I have no choice but to speak and to use my voice where I can.”

“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.

She said 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.”

She said that these problems were acknowledged by Minister for Justice Helen McEntee at a meeting with the minister and the Nkencho family.

“We need to be steadfast on this and hang on, because as much as all these things are happening, we are seeing changes,” she said.

“The police and the government know that people are watching and that they’re not going to stay silent anymore

“It’s paramount that we’re able to speak about this.”

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Gardaí shot George Nkencho multiple times outside his home on Manorsfields Drive in Clonee, Co Dublin at the end of December.

He had been involved in two incidents at a shopping centre on the day of his death where he was allegedly brandishing a knife. He was suffering from mental health difficulties at the time.

Speaking this evening, Ruth Coppinger said the “beginning of the formal inquest on Monday must be another very difficult milestone for the family”.

“I think the issues that these events have brought up are huge ones for this country,” she said.

“Minorities are blamed for all the ills of society… When I was growing up, unmarried mothers were blamed for absolutely everything that happened in Ireland, and now it’s new communities that are being blamed.”

Minister for Equality Roderic O’Gorman met with the Garda Commissioner this week to ask what the force is doing to improve relationships between gardaí and black and mixed race people in Dublin.

The minister said that they “discussed a number of issues relating to community policing, including the steps being taken by the Commissioner to ensure that respect for diversity is at the heart of day-to-day policing in all our communities”.

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