Gardaí appeal to mourners to follow Covid-19 rules at George Nkencho funeral

Organisers of service for man shot by garda member stress need to avoid ‘overcrowding’

George Nkencho (27) was shot dead by the Garda Armed Support Unit outside his home in December. File photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times.

George Nkencho (27) was shot dead by the Garda Armed Support Unit outside his home in December. File photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times.

 

Gardaí have appealed to mourners planning to attend the funeral of George Nkencho on Saturday to abide by Covid-19 guidelines.

Mr Nkencho (27), who was shot dead by gardaí outside his home in Clonee, Dublin on December 30 last, will be buried in Mulhuddart Cemetery following a service at the Church of the Sacred Heart Of Jesus in Huntstown.

The service will be limited to 10 people in line with the Government’s Covid-19 restrictions.

However, organisers are making plans to accommodate people planning to gather outside the church. This includes the deployment of stewards and traffic management measures. A planning meeting took place on Friday morning.

“People can watch the events from the comfort of their homes,” organisers said in a statement. “It is important to avoid overcrowding on Saturday.”

Local gardaí are working with organisers and have put in place a traffic plan.

“Mourners are asked to observe social distance, face masks and to line up along the road instead of huddling together,” the organisers said. “Anything capable of bad press/ publicity must be avoided.”

The funeral will be livestreamed on Facebook. A “service of songs” will also take place on Friday evening which will be available to watch on Zoom.

“Gardaí are aware of a funeral expected to take place in the Huntstown area of Dublin 15 on the morning of Saturday 13 March 2021,” a Garda spokesman said.

“In advance of the funeral An Garda Síochána has been liaising closely on a continues basis with all of the relevant parties involved to ensure appropriate policing arrangements will be in place.”

He said the Garda will investigate the organisers of any event found to be in breach of the penal regulations but that “a funeral is not a penal regulation.”

“The Covid-19 Pandemic remains a public health crisis and An Garda Síochána continues to appeal to all citizens to demonstrate personal and social responsibility to comply with public health guidelines and regulations, in particular essential journeys, in order to continue to save lives,” he said.

Line the route

The plan is for mourners to line the route up to the church while adhering to social distancing.

“Those who intend to attend the final tribute to George at Manorfields after the burial are asked to maintain social distance and masks are mandatory,” organisers said.

Mr Nkencho’s funeral had been delayed by two postmortems – one carried out by the State and one by a private pathologist conducted at the request of the family.

Mr Nkencho moved from Nigeria to Ireland with his parents as a young child. It is understood the Nkencho family had considered burying George in Nigeria but finances and Covid-19 restrictions made this impossible.

Public inquiry

A Garda Ombudsman (Gsoc) investigation into his shooting is ongoing. Members of his family have called for a public inquiry to be held.

Mr Nkencho was shot dead by the Garda Armed Support Unit outside his home after he assaulted a shop worker in a nearby supermarket, and an altercation with gardaí continued through a housing estate as he walked towards his home. He was armed with a kitchen knife and had, his family have said, been suffering from mental health issues in the months beforehand.

A video of the shooting recorded five shots being fired and appeared to show Mr Nkencho lunging at gardaí in the front garden of the house.

The Garda said officers engaged in a graduated response to the threat, first issuing verbal commands before using pepper spray and Tasers to subdue Mr Nkencho.

However, after those earlier tactics did not bring the incident to a peaceful end, gardaí followed Mr Nkencho to his home where a stand-off ensued in the front garden, ending when the shots were fired.