Garda diversity forum to be set up in west Dublin after George Nkencho’s death

GSoc appropriate body to investigate shooting as calls renewed for public inquiry

A Garda local diversity forum is to be established in west Dublin to improve relationships with the black Irish community in the Blanchardstown area in the wake of the killing of George Nkencho.

Acting Minister for Justice Heather Humphreys said agreement had been reached to establish the forum based on the Garda national diversity programme model.

Ms Humphreys, taking her first question time standing in for Minister for Justice Helen McEntee who is on maternity leave, said “I very much welcome this development which I understand, would be the first local diversity forum established”.

A decade ago however while a forum did not exist there was strong involvement of Garda ethnic liaison officers with the local black community. There are currently 281 trained Garda diversity officers (GDOs) nationwide.

Following up on an initiative by Ms McEntee to establish the forum, Ms Humphreys said she had written to the Nkencho family to inform them that the forum is to be established and “I hope that it will create closer connections between gardaí and the black Irish community in the Blanchardstown area”.

The Minister was responding to People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny who called for a public inquiry into Mr Nkencho’s shooting.

“The least the family deserves is a public inquiry,” the Dublin South-West TD said. He told the Minister that the social media “vitriolic and toxic messaging in relation to George’s death has been literally horrific. It is utterly reprehensible.”

Ms Humphreys said the commentary on social media “is disgraceful and should not be happening”.

But she said that the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSoc) is carrying out a criminal investigation into Mr Nkencho’s death.

“It would not be appropriate for me, as Minister to comment on our interfere in what is an ongoing independent investigation with full powers.”

She said however that she was confident that GSoc “is treating this matter with the utmost priority with the gravity that it deserves.

“It is important to the family and all those involved in this tragedy that the investigation is done thoroughly but as safely as possible in the circumstances.”

Ms Humphreys said that Ms McEntee had met the family and “assured them of GSoc’s independents, and that they are the most appropriate body to undertake an impartial investigation”.

She added that GSoc’s investigation “constitutes a much more powerful and intrusive investigation, than any other form of statutory inquiry in this context.

“The most appropriate course of action is to await the outcome of GSoc’s’s investigation as the appropriate body established to investigate incidents.

“And should there be any outstanding issues at the conclusion of this process, I will consider any other options, which may be appropriate,” Ms Humphreys said.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is a parliamentary reporter with The Irish Times