Gardaí at 2015 fatal fire lack support for PTSD, conference told

Gardaí who attended Dublin fire that killed 10 still suffering, AGSI conference hears

A Garda at the aftermath of the fire that killed 10 people at Carrickmines, Dublin, in October 2015. Picture Nick Bradshaw

A Garda at the aftermath of the fire that killed 10 people at Carrickmines, Dublin, in October 2015. Picture Nick Bradshaw

 

Garda members who dealt with a multiple-fatality fire in Carrickmines, south Dublin, were suffering post-traumatic stress disorder 2½ years later, having not been provided with proper supports at the time, a Garda conference has been told.

Ten members of the Connors family lost their lives in the fire on a halting site in Carrickmines in October 2015.

The annual conference in Tullow, Co Carlow, of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors has been told some of the gardaí who attended the scene were still suffering serious consequences.

Sgt Tim Galvin was one of the Garda members at the scene and said the mental health supports for those present fell short. Some were still suffering the effects, and being absent from work as a result.

“This was definitely the most traumatic of incidents. I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said.

“Some of the members have been out sick with PTSD and there are others who are still working who will not admit they have it.

“That is where the system is falling down. I can flag it but there is a stigma to putting up your hands and saying you have a serious mental problem. They are afraid to speak.

He said one garda who had spoken out had got treatment.

Triggered

“He is starting to come around. His issue is that any incident now involving a child triggers him. That man was 15 months out of work and he has come back and then gone sick again.”

Sgt Galvin said other emergency workers who attend the scene had counsellors on site. But it was two weeks before the Garda authorities provided supports. This was far too late and the Garda needed to improve in that regard.

Many delegates at the conference spoke of the need for senior Garda management to provide more supports for Garda members who had suffered stress and endured trauma in the line of duty.

Det Sgt Conor Gilmartin outlined how he had been stalked online by a man subsequently jailed. Based in Shankill, Co Dublin, at the time the stalking began in 2010, Det Sgt Gilmartin is now working with the Garda National Cybercrime Bureau.

He believes the Garda authorities needed to be stronger in its support of members who were abused or stalked online. He said some 54 pages of comments about him were posted on one website by the man subsequently jailed, and by some others who aided him.

“It was clearly slandering me and the content was being addressed directly to me, threatening,” Det Sgt Gilmartin said. “And he was urging me to sue him and do something about what he was saying about me.

“This material was also making references to my children, and saying that people would hear about all this and in the future, my children would know I am corrupt.

“He had obviously done his research in regard to me because he knew that I had children, and that I was married.”