Senator’s remarks over death of garda criticised by GRA

The magazine of the Garda Representative Association has strongly criticised a Fine Gael senator for comments he make in the Seanad in which he referred to the tragic death of a garda and claimed a Sinn Féin member had allegedly said “they would have done a much cleaner job”.

The editorial in the most recent edition of the Garda Review said Kerry senator Tom Sheahan had engaged in “doublespeak and double standards” during the debate on June 20.

The Seanad debate was on section 8 of the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009 and Mr Sheahan said when “a member of the Garda Síochána died in tragic circumstances in Co Kerry recently, a member of Sinn Féin said to a friend of mine in the Garda Síochána that they would have done a much cleaner job”.

Tralee-based Garda Adrian Hickey from Blarney, Co Cork, died in May after he suffered a gunshot wound to the head from his official issue Garda handgun while he was off duty.

The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission said it was not a suspicious death and gardaí did not seek anyone in connection with the tragic incident.

In the days after the senator’s comments, Sinn Féin TD for North Kerry and West Limerick Martin Ferris said his party was “hurt by these allegations” and called on Mr Sheahan “to name the person who allegedly made these remarks” or else withdraw them.

Now the GRA has waded into the debate in its editorial, which states: “It is incredulous that an elected public representative raised the tragic death of a member of An Garda Síochána in a joust with a political rival. We expect better standards.”

The editorial, by PJ Stone, the GRA chairman, contends that “this became an issue of political point- scoring, ironically raised during a discussion on new criminal justice legislation”.

The editorial says any evidence of a crime “that could feasibly be described as incitement” should have been reported to gardaí.

“For political figures to utilise allegations of criminal behaviour that have not been reported to An Garda Síochána as fuel for political debate is a practice that lowers the tone,” it says. Mr Sheahan did not comment.

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