Minister for Justice Helen McEntee to meet Nkencho family
Minister’s office says she will not discuss details of Gsoc investigation
It is not clear what Minister for Justice Helen McEntee’s meeting with the Nkencho family will address. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
Minister for Justice Helen McEntee is to meet members of the family of George Nkencho who was shot dead by gardaí in December.
The private meeting will take place at the Nkencho family home in Clonee, Dublin 15, on Wednesday, 4½ months after the 27-year-old was shot by an armed officer while wielding a knife in the front garden.
It is not clear what the meeting will address. The Nkencho family have been highly critical of the Garda Ombudsman (Gsoc) investigation to date, including what they feel is the lack of updates being provided.
They have called for a public inquiry into the shooting, while supporters have demanded the issues of race, class and mental health are factored into the investigation. Mr Nkencho was born in Nigeria before moving to Ireland with his family as a young child. He was suffering from severe mental health issues in the months prior to the shooting.
However, in a letter to the family regarding the meeting, the Minister’s office said she will not be able to answer questions about the Gsoc inquiry or the current status of the Armed Support Unit (ASU) officer who fired the fatal shots.
It is understood the ASU officer has remained on active duty, in line with standard Garda practice.
A spokesman for Ms McEntee declined to comment on the meeting. “It seems to be more a case of her passing on condolences rather than addressing the family’s grievances,” said a source with knowledge of the meeting.
“The family are meeting the Minister with their solicitor to raise concerns about the Gsoc investigation and the need for a comprehensive, independent inquiry, as well as their desire for a genuine forum to be established of gardaí and the communities they police to prevent racial or other biases,” a statement from a family representative said on Wednesday.
The Nkencho family has since moved from the family home in Clonee to another location in Dublin 15 over safety concerns. In the weeks after the shooting they received racist hate mail in the post.
They had also expressed a desire to get away from the scene of Mr Nkencho’s shooting, which left bullet holes in the front of the house.
It is understood Gsoc investigators have now taken accounts from all material witnesses, including the armed garda who fired the fatal shots. The garda was interviewed in mid-March, some 10 weeks after the shooting.
Having interviewed all material witnesses, including the two ASU members who were at the scene in Clonee, Gsoc investigators are now “evaluating” the evidence gathered to date, a source said.
It is understood the family will also use the meeting to raise an incident which occurred last week, when several gardaí became involved in a confrontation with Mr Nkencho’s mother, Blessing Nkencho, and a 16-year-old black youth.
According to a series of clips shot at the scene, which have been shared widely on social media, several gardaí attempted to arrest the boy, forcing him to the ground.
Ms Nkencho was also brought to the ground in the melee and was underneath gardaí for a short period of time.
The footage incident appears to be broken up into several parts and does not show what immediately preceded the boy being brought to the ground by gardaí.
The 16-year-old, who cannot be identified because of his age, was arrested under section 6 of the Public Order Act and brought to Blanchardstown Garda station.
He was later released without charge and is to be assessed for inclusion in the Garda Juvenile Liaison programme.
It is understood the incident began after gardaí followed two separate males into a housing complex.