Terence Wheelock’s brother calls for public inquiry over 2005 death in Dublin Garda station

Sammy Wheelock says he takes inspiration from the Stardust families and that ‘justice should be done’ over his brother’s death

Sammy Wheelock, brother of Terence Wheelock, at a protest at Dublin's Garden of Rembrance that called for a public inquiry into his brother's death

The brother of Dublin man Terence Wheelock (20), who died after a period of detention at Store Street Garda station almost 19 years ago, has said he takes inspiration from the Stardust families in his campaign for a public inquiry into his brother’s death.

Speaking at a protest on Saturday calling for the inquiry into his brother’s death, Sammy Wheelock said the Stardust families “deserved their peace, they deserved their closure, a 43-year struggle”.

“It gave my family the will to keep fighting. That’s all we do, that’s all we talk about. Justice should be done, give us what we need, give us what we seek. What harm is it to anyone? It’s just justice,” he said, speaking to The Irish Times at the Garden of Remembrance.

On June 2nd, 2005, Terence Wheelock was arrested in relation to a Garda investigation into a stolen car and was brought to the inner city Garda station.


Hours later, he was found unconscious in his cell with a ligature tied around his neck, according to Garda accounts. He subsequently slipped into a coma, and died in the Mater hospital three months later, on September 16th.

In 2007, at an inquest into Terence’s death at Dublin District Coroner’s Court, a jury returned a majority verdict – four to three – of suicide.

A protest at the Garden of Remembrance, Dublin, calling for a public inquiry into the death of Terence Wheelock in 2005

The Wheelock family have long rejected the inquest’s verdict of suicide, and have campaigned for an independent public inquiry since Terence’s death.

In 2010, a Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc) investigation into Terence’s death concluded that there was no credible evidence that he was mistreated while in custody at Store Street.

Mr Wheelock said on Saturday his family are calling on the Minister for Justice Helen McEntee to open an inquiry – one without ties to the Garda – into the death of his brother.

“My family have been campaigning for an independent public inquiry, by an independent source, with no ties to the gardaí, State or Gsoc, to perform this investigation, so that my family can finally get closure, can finally get answers into what happened to Terence on that day when he was wrongfully arrested,” he said.

The Wheelock family are petitioning the newly elected councillors of Dublin City Council to support calls for the inquiry. They’re also campaigning to rename Diamond Park – a green space off Gardiner Street and close to where Terence grew up on Sean O’Casey Avenue – in honour of Terence.

On Saturday afternoon, protesters marched from the Garden of Remembrance to Store Street Garda station. Mr Wheelock led call-and-response chants, including: “Say his name; Terence Wheelock”, and “justice now”.

Protesters also held placards with several slogans, including: “Terence had far too many mysterious injuries”, and “Our family wants the truth”.

At Store Street, Ross Donnelly-Wheelock, a nephew of Terence’s, said the events surrounding his death “just don’t add up”.

“We march for transparency, for answers, and for a fundamental right for justice,” he said, speaking in front of the Garda station.

Newly re-elected Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan said she was hoping to raise Terence’s case in the European Parliament. She said building public support was key to pushing for an inquiry, and to “make sure that this won’t go away”.

People Before Profit-Solidarity TD Bríd Smith said the campaign for a public inquiry was “an issue for working class justice”.

“If Terence was from a posh part of Dublin, from Malahide, or some well-off place, and had a father and a mother who were professionals and businesspeople, we would not be here today, and there is not a shred of doubt about that,” she said.

Her party colleague Paul Murphy also addressed the crowd, stating the Stardusts families should act as inspiration. “We will win a public inquiry, eventually, we’ll get the proof, we’ll get justice for Terence,” he said.

Sammy Wheelock (C), brother of Terence Wheelock, was among those at a protest at the Garden of Remembrance, Dublin, calling for a public inquiry into the death of Terence in 2005
Fiachra Gallagher

Fiachra Gallagher

Fiachra Gallagher is an Irish Times journalist