We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Photocall Ireland

Family of garda who took his own life do not want GSOC involved in investigation into his death

The family of Sgt Michael Galvin are said to be traumatised and angry at how GSOC carried out its investigation.

THE ASSOCIATION OF Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) says there needs to be a government inquiry into how the Garda Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) treated a garda prior to his death.

Sergeant Michael Galvin took his own life at Ballyshannon Garda Station in Donegal last Thursday.

Speaking at a press conference today, the AGSI General Secretary John Redmond said Taoiseach Enda Kenny should weigh in on the matter and called for a High Court judge to preside over an inquiry.

Redmond said the gardaí should be the body to investigate the death of Sgt Galvin, not GSOC.

Solicitor Michael Hegarty said he would like to know who decided that this incident was cause for a criminal investigation into Sgt Galvin in the first place.

An investigation was launched as a result of a fatal road traffic incident in Ballyshannon in the early hours of New Year’s Day this year.

Sheena Stewart, 33, who was from Letterkenny died when she was struck by a minibus taxi in the town.

GSOC had opened an investigation into Galvin’s involvement in the incident but had cleared him of any wrongdoing.

However, the fact that he had been cleared was never communicated to him.

The AGSI was strongly critical of GSOC’s actions and said Sgt Galvin had given impeccable service to the force.

Redmond said the association felt compelled to highlight the stress felt by Sgt Michael Galvin in the weeks leading up to his sudden and tragic death.

FullSizeRender Solicitor Gerard O'Donnell, AGSI's John Redmond and solicitor Michael Hegarty at the AGSI offices today. Christina Finn Christina Finn

Tragic death 

“Sgt Galvin had an impeccable record of service and loyalty to An Garda Síochána and often went beyond the call of duty.”

He added that for the Commission [GSOC] to come to a conclusion and not inform the person involved or An Garda Síochana “is beyond belief”.

He was also critical of GSOC’s involvement into the investigation into Sgt Galvin’s death and said his family are deeply unhappy with the situation.

The question over the GSOC further investigation now into the untimely death of Sgt Galvin does not sit well with this Association or Michael’s family.

They are devastated by the tragedy and are very annoyed with GSOC and the way they carried out their investigation into this matter.

Why GSOC investigated Sgt Galvin

It was clarified today that Sgt Galvin was not meant to be on duty on the night of the incident, but was called in to cover.

He was on duty for about 40 minutes when he was called to a suspected hit-and-run in the town, and had driven past Sheena Stewart on his way to investigate the incident.

Solicitor Michael Hegarty said that Sgt Galvin had written in a report, three weeks after the incident, that he had seen Stewart standing on a footpath in Ballyshannon as he made his way to investigate the hit-and-run.

However, CCTV footage showed she had been standing on the road, close to the path, when the garda patrol car passed her.

GSOC spy probe Niall Carson / PA Niall Carson / PA / PA


This tiny discrepancy was the “anomaly” that was cause for the investigation, claimed Hegarty.

He said that Sgt Galvin was only informed by telephone that he was under investigation and not in writing.

Hegarty stated it was only after his offices sought clarification on the investigation that they received a letter stating Galvin was under investigation for making false and misleading statements to the gardaí and for perverting the course of justice.

This caused great stress to Sgt Galvin, said solicitor Gerard O’Donnell, who said the sergeant was living in fear for weeks that he would go to jail or be convicted of a criminal offence.

Hegarty and the AGSI repeatedly emphasised that despite a report in the media there was no complaint made against Sgt Galvin.

The investigation arose from a referral by the gardaí to GSOC.

In a statement, GSOC said there was no assumption that there was any garda misconduct.

Sergeant Galvin is not, nor was he ever, the subject of a complaint to GSOC.

The sergeant was interviewed in the context of a fatal incident on 1 January 2015, which was referred by the Garda Síochána to GSOC for investigation, because the law provides for GSOC to investigate, where there has been garda contact with a person prior to death or serious harm occurring. This is a routine occurrence and it should not be automatically assumed that there is garda misconduct in such cases that are referred to GSOC.

Sergeant Galvin was interviewed about the incident on the afternoon of 20th May.

GSOC’s investigation concluded the following week and found no evidence of a criminal offence or a breach of discipline by any garda member.  It is unusual that GSOC would share its findings at this point in the process, but given these exceptional circumstances we believe that it is appropriate.

‘Proportionate and reasonable’

It added that it is “satisfied that our interaction with Sergeant Galvin during the investigation was proportionate and reasonable. Nevertheless, in light of what has happened and of the concerns of his family, we will be arranging a peer review of the investigation”.

The current investigation into his death, which was also referred to GSOC by the gardaí, will also be subject to peer review, said GSOC.

Having spoken to the Galvin family, Hegarty said they do not want GSOC investigating Sgt Galvin’s death as they no longer have any confidence in the way in which they conduct their business and handled the investigation.

GSOC also said it has arrangements in place with other police oversight bodies to carry out reviews and said it feels this is the most appropriate review mechanism in these circumstances.

Redmond was highly critical of GSOC investigations and claimed that the presumption of innocence is missing from their investigations.

He said it had been communicated by its members that they often felt “traumatised and dehumanised” when under investigation.

He also said it was not acceptable for a foreign police body to investigate this matter and said it should be done “under the government’s pen”.

AGSI will now seek a meeting with the Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald to deal with the affair and press home their concerns about how GSOC are dealing with its members.

If you need someone to talk to, contact:

  • Console  1800 247 247 (suicide prevention, self-harm, bereavement)

  • Aware 1890 303 302 (depression, anxiety)

  • Pieta House 01 601 0000 or email - (suicide, self-harm)

  • Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 19)

  • Childline 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s)

Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.