Fianna Fail has called on the Government to issue a state apology to a former Garda member following the confirmation from Garda Commissioner Drew Harris which states that his “alleged involvement in homosexual activity” was the reason for his dismissal.
The Irish Times reports that the former Garda has “welcomed” the confirmation from the Commissioner, seeing it as justification, and has now requested a meeting with Harris.
Fianna Fail’s justice spokesperson Jim O’Callaghan TD said the “deeply disturbing” dismissal of the former garda because of his sexuality was a reminder what a “cold” place Ireland was in the 1980s and called on the Government to issue a state apology.
“Garda Commissioner Drew Harris deserves to be commended for taking the lead in seeking to acknowledge the wrongdoing of An Garda Síochána in this act,” said Mr O’Callaghan.
“The Government should now acknowledge the State’s wrongdoing and apologise to the [former] garda on behalf of the State for what was, on any analysis, an unfair and shameful dismissal.”
Following the revelations from Commissioner Harris, the Garda Representative Association (GRA) has said it would be raising the dismissal with the Garda Commissioner during their next meeting.
GRA represents rank-and-file members of An Garda Siochana and told TheJournal.ie that this matter “needs to be dealt with by the garda organisation as a matter of urgency for our former colleague.
“It was a shocking thing to happen, and no garda should have felt compelled to resign in such personal circumstances.”
The former gay Garda, who remained anonymous, spoke to ‘RTE Liveline with Joe Duffy’ and The Irish Times about this dismissal.
The man reported that the Garda interrogated him about his connection to Charles Self before he was dismissed. Charles Self, a well-known figure in the gay community of the time, was attacked and murdered at his home in Monkstown, Dublin in January 1982.
The gay Garda then explained he was interviewed in Pearse St Garda Station where he was photographed out of uniform and finger-printed again, which he says was very intimidating.
The day after, Gardaí came to his home to remove any remaining items of Garda property including his second uniform, a grey coat, a baton, his notebook and torch.
He noted that after his dismissal, he experienced a ‘downward spiral.’ 5 years after his termination, Garda still refused to reverse the decision.
Later, In the early 2000s, he first sought a copy of his personnel file but said the force wouldn’t release it to him.
While he never went to any gay bars, he said he used to go to the Hirshfeld centre, an LGBT+ resource centre on Fownes street.
He said his name must have been given to Gardaí from someone he knew, but added the only thing that made sense was that the Hirshfeld centre was being observed by Gardaí.
Tonie Walsh welcomed the case being highlighted. He added that while it was “dangerous” for one generation to assume responsibility for a previous generations wrongdoings, it is essential for the state to acknowledge the legacy of hurt caused to the LGBT+ community.
In response to this case, a spokesperson from the Department of Justice told GCN:
“The standards and indeed, the laws that applied in 1982 were wrong and would be completely unacceptable today. Last year on the 25th anniversary of the decriminalisation legislation, the Minister for Justice and Equality referred to the hurt and harm that had been caused to gay people and fully acknowledged and apologised for the discriminatory nature of those laws which had very real and sometimes tragic consequences for people’s lives.
“In terms of this individual case, it is our understanding that the person concerned does not wish to be publicly identified. Following correspondence, the Department located papers from 1982 and sent these to the Garda authorities to assist them in responding to the person.
“The Minister is supportive of the Garda Commissioner who, he believes, is dealing appropriately with the matter.”
© 2019 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.
For 30 years GCN has been a vital, free-of-charge information service for Ireland’s LGBT+ community. We want to go on providing this community hub in print and online, helping countless individuals across the country, but the revenue from advertising across the media is falling.
GCN needs your support. If you value having an independent LGBT+ media in Ireland, you can help from only €1.99 per month. Support Ireland’s free, independent LGBT+ media.