Widow of Det Supt Colm Fox describes pressure her husband was under

Edel Fox tells Association of Garda Superintendents members should be mindful of their wellbeing

The late Garda superintendent Colm Fox. His widow Edel addressed the Association of Garda Superintendents (AGS) on Wednesday.   File photograph: Dave Meehan

The late Garda superintendent Colm Fox. His widow Edel addressed the Association of Garda Superintendents (AGS) on Wednesday. File photograph: Dave Meehan

 

The widow of Colm Fox, the Garda superintendent who took his own life three years ago, has urged his colleagues in the force to be mindful of their wellbeing, saying her husband was under pressure and not sleeping in the period before his death.

Det Supt Fox was leading the investigation into the 2016 Kinahan-Hutch feud attack at the Regency Hotel, north Dublin before he was found dead in Ballymun Garda station in 2018.

Edel Fox, who is suing the State over her husband’s death and working conditions at the time, was speaking to superintendents who had gathered for the annual conference of the Association of Garda Superintendents (AGS) in Naas, Co Kildare, on Wednesday.

One of the themes of the conference relates to the pressure that officers of superintendent rank work under, often taking calls about serious incidents or fatalities in the early hours.

While Mrs Fox did not speak to the media and was not recorded while she spoke at the conference, she gave permission for her remarks to be relayed by the association.

Supt Declan McCarthy of the Wicklow Garda division, and a member of the AGS national executive, said he and his colleagues had listened closely when Mrs Fox spoke, adding her remarks were very relevant given the current demands of the job.

“She spoke very movingly about her husband’s death and about the level of pressure and stress that the role he played within An Garda Síochána had placed upon him,” Supt McCarthy said. “She was very concerned that we, as superintendents, would also make sure to be mindful of our own welfare and matters like that.

“She actually specifically referenced, and it goes back to our claim about availability, circumstances in which she had to take her husband’s phone and put it in the corner of the bedroom covered with a pillow so that the ring tone or the flashing wouldn’t disturb his sleep.

“And this goes to the level of availability that is required by superintendents. And it also goes to the point that our association president (Supt Séamus Nolan) makes where he says these phone calls at night don’t just disturb the superintendents, they disturb the whole family.”

Supt Nolan told the conference that he and his colleagues were expected to continuously take calls into the early hours, up to 4am or 5am, when they and their families were sleeping in their homes.

“A phone call at 5am does not just affect the intended recipient, it wakes the whole house,” he said, adding superintendents received calls to support frontline colleagues on duty who were dealing with serious incidents or fatalities.

He added while his association had met Minister for Justice Helen McEntee last year seeking “psychological support and panel of friends’ structures” they were still not in place. He and his colleagues were tired of being “dismissed as an irritation to the Government”.

Det Supt Fox took his own life with a Garda firearm in 2018 during the trial of Patrick Hutch who was accused of the murder of David Byrne at the hotel in 2016. The trial collapsed. The attack, during which heavily armed men dressed as gardaí stormed a boxing event, marked a major escalation in the gang feud between the Kinahan and Hutch organised crime groups.

Det Supt Fox led the investigation into the attack from Ballymun station. He was also previously stationed in Blanchardstown, west Dublin, and Mrs Fox said at Wednesday’s conference her deceased husband was at one stage running seven murder investigations at the same time.

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