A gay Garda who was dismissed from the force in 1982 is calling for a meeting with the Garda Commissioner for an apology and explanation surrounding the decision, which caused him to reach ‘rock bottom’ at age 22.
His reason for dismissal was never made clear, but the Garda was interrogated 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 former gay Garda, who remained anonymous, but used the alias Matthew, spoke to ‘RTE Liveline with Joe Duffy’ about his current request and recalled the meeting with the Garda in 1982. See a clip of audio below:
"I was gone. No reason. The whole thing took two months, and the career that I thought I had was over."
Gay Garda who was sacked from the force speaks to @rteliveline 📲 https://t.co/zvzDYEQkwN #liveline pic.twitter.com/tZhimbeoCp
— RTÉ Radio 1 (@RTERadio1) June 20, 2019
“In 1982, there were a series of events that happened to me after the Charles Self murder,” recalls Matthew. “After his murder, I was directed to go down to Dublin Castle and present myself before a Superintendent. I had and I hadn’t gotten an idea of what it was about because while I was in the force, I wasn’t openly gay, I wasn’t on the scene, I didn’t go to the pubs, I didn’t do anything like that.”
Matthew continued, “I knew Charles Self, he lived in Monkstown and I lived quite close. We had a ‘nodding’ acquaintance relationship if you like, though relationship is too strong a word. But I was directed by my sergeant to go down to Dublin Castle and appear before the superintendent. He gave me a few tips to have my shoes well-polished and put on my good tunic…
“…when I went into the office, I can remember a very icy, stony atmosphere and I was told I was being investigated by conduct that would bring discredit to the force. I asked what was this about and he advised me to make a cautious statement and demanded I allow him to fingerprint me, which I did.
“From memory, I was asked did I know Charles Self and I said I did and that was as far as it went. It was quite brief but it was an intimidating atmosphere for me. I was 22 years of age. I was worried about my future in my job that I absolutely loved.”
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.
“There was actually a witch hunt against gay men to try and solve that murder which they never solved. In June 1982, two days before I was due to be attested, we were on nights, and on Wednesday night of that week, a sergeant and an inspector came into the parade room… and ordered me out of the room.
“My colleagues were shocked. I was given ten minutes to strip and get out of the station. No reason. Nothing. I left the station.” Matthew said his sergeant advised him not to leave and come in for duty the following night and that the sergeant would fight it for him. “But I was like a rabbit caught in the headlights.”
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.
Matthew noted that after his dismissal, he experienced a ‘downward spiral.’
5 years after his dismissal, Garda still refused to reverse the decision.
Later, In the early 2000s, he first sought a copy of his personal file but said the force wouldn’t release it to him.
“They did invite me to view it under the supervision of a sergeant in the Phoenix Park in Dublin and I said no. It was my file, they were my details, there was information on me, I wanted it. But no way, they would not release it. This thing eats me up, nearly on a daily basis.”
“I eventually got the redacted file in August 2014 and I still wasn’t happy. It was still coming into my head. It was there the whole time. So I wrote again looking for a meeting with Garda Commissioner and again, that was last year, I was stonewalled.
“GSOC said they couldn’t do anything for me. I was stonewalled with Garda headquarters. So I then copied all the documents to the Minister for Justice. Mr Flanagan, and I’ve been stonewalled there as well.
“The only people I’ve ever discussed this with is my GP, my psychiatrist, and my former colleagues. The one thing I need closure on is why?”
— Liveline (@rteliveline) June 19, 2019
While he never went to any gay bars, Matthew 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. At the same time, he admitted he didn’t know anyone who did observe the area: “It was all cloak and dagger.”
The former gay Garda added, “I’m quite sure I’m not the only ex-member who was treated in a similar fashion.”
© 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.