Dáil suspended in row over George Nkencho case

Ceann Comhairle warns Solidarity TD Mick Barry that separation of powers prevents him commenting on decisions of courts and DPP

The Dáil was suspended in a row over attempts by Solidarity TD Mick Barry to raise the decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) not to prosecute the gardaí involved in the fatal shooting of 27-year-old George Nkencho.

Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl told Mr Barry that “separation of powers means that in this House you do not criticise or comment on affairs of the courts or the DPP”.

Mr Barry had raised the case during Leaders’ Questions and said that Mr Nkencho’s “grieving, working-class, migrant family” would “now have to fight a long and hard battle for justice, even for basic information”.

He made the comments following the decision of the Nkencho family to appeal the DPP’s decision.


The Cork North-Central TD said that on Tuesday the State apologised to the families of the Stardust victims and everyone acclaimed the move “and said never again. And yet just one day later the State appears to be doing it again.”

The Ceann Comhairle intervened and said the DPP and the courts were independent in their remit. “Their actions may not be commented on in this House.”

Mr Barry said that members could not be prevented from raising matters of “general public importance”. But Mr Ó Feargahil insisted that Mr Barry could not comment on it and he would not tolerate it. “Nobody in this chamber is going to comment on actions or statements or decisions of the courts or the DPP. Now let that be clear.

“Our hearts go out to the Nkencho family. The sympathies of every member of this House are with them and the memory of their son who should not have lost his life. But we’re not going to talk here about the decision of the DPP.”

When Mr Barry said the case was “always going to be a litmus test” of the State the Ceann Comhairle told him he should take a different tack.

Mr Barry said that “Ireland, Dublin in 2024 is not the land or the city of 100,000 welcomes for migrants or for people of colour – a racist riot shook the city last November, a migrant was killed some weeks ago for speaking his own language. What message does the decision to not even send this case for trial send.”

Mr Ó Fearghaíl intervened again and said “No, No, No we’re not going to have more of this”.

After repeated interruptions Mr Barry was told “you’re not going to abuse the long standing principle of the separation of powers” and the rules applied to all 160 TDs. When he told Mr Barry repeatedly that he was out of order and to resume his seat Mr Barry refused to do so and the House was suspended.

When it resumed Mr Barry said he agreed that George Nkencho should not have died.

He called for the publication of the Gsoc report following a two-and-a-half year investigation. He said there were “hundreds of witness statements, video evidence and a lot of stuff in that report,” but it was not available to the Nkencho family.

Mr Barry said “the level of alienation among young people of colour in this State from the State is a matter that needs to be discussed and recognised and I have no doubt that what happened yesterday will deepen and strengthen that alienation. It must be debated and discussed.”

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue who was standing in the for the Tánaiste said that Gsoc had notified the Nkencho family about their entitlement to a summary of reasons for the decision not to prosecute, and their entitlement to request a review of the decision.

He added that “Gsoc undertaken to make substantive detail of its investigation publicly available as and when other statutory processes permit it to do so.”

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times