Sergeants and inspectors concerned at number of suicides in Garda
Agsi conference to hear call for suicide prevention programme
Det Supt Colm Fox: he had led many major criminal investigations, including into murders and gangland crimes. Photograph: Dave Meehan
Garda sergeants and inspectors are becoming concerned at the number of suicides in the Garda, and want a strategic plan to help reduce the number of members taking their own lives.
The call comes from members of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (Agsi) just weeks after a well know senior officer took his own life in the Garda station where he was based.
Garda sources told The Irish Times while there was shock within the force at the tragic death last month of Det Supt Colm Fox, many in the Garda had long been concerned at what appeared to be an increase in suicides.
The same sources could not specify a precise number of suicides within the Garda in recent years, but they were aware of seven such cases. They believed pressures of work were something of a factor in some of those deaths.
Agsi, which is due to open its annual delegate conference in Co Carlow on Monday, is to discuss the issue at the conference which runs for the next three days.
Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan is due to address delegates on Monday evening.
Delegates from the Dublin south central Garda division want the association to call on Garda headquarters to “implement a comprehensive suicide prevention programme” within the force.
They say they are making the call “in light of the need to reduce the prevalence of suicide” within the Garda.
Agsi national’s executive has also put down a motion that, if passed, would oblige it to “carry out a full review of the Agsi sickness insurance scheme” .
Det Supt Fox was found dead at Ballymun Garda station on the evening of Saturday, February 10th.
He had led many major criminal investigations, including into murders and gangland crimes, during his career. They included the Kinahan-Hutch gun attack at the Regency Hotel, north Dublin, two years ago. A case from that attack is currently before the courts. However, the trial has been adjourned pending the outcome of the inquiry into the death of Det Supt Fox.
Delegates attending the Agsi conference will also debate a number of other important issues.
Sergeants and inspectors from the Westmeath Garda division want the Agsi to call on the Garda Commissioner to put in place proper succession planning for senior posts, which would improve the continuity of management in the force.
And delegates from Roscommon and Longford are calling for any complaints made against a Garda member at superintendent rank or higher to automatically be referred by Garda headquarters to an “external investigative panel”.
Sergeants and inspectors from Mayo are proposing that any costs incurred by Garda members who find themselves under investigation by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission would be reimbursed in cases where they are subsequently cleared.
Delegates from Kerry are urging Garda headquarters to better equip members of the force for dealing with extreme weather events such as the recent snow and storm Ophelia.
Sergeants and Inspectors from the Dublin west division want clear rules around the composition of Garda units. They are urging a ratio of one sergeant for every five rank-and-file gardaí in units.
And they also want Agsi to call on Garda headquarters to ensure probationer gardaí make up no more than one quarter of the total strength of a unit.
Delegates from the Garda College have put down a motion for debate calling for 24 forensic collision investigative vacancies to be filled.