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Tragic Garda didn't know he'd been cleared in GSOC investigation

Sad: Garda Sergeant Galvin in his role as Sligo manager
Sad: Garda Sergeant Galvin in his role as Sligo manager

THE Garda Ombudsman has launched an internal review after a garda sergeant took his own life, not knowing he had been cleared of any wrong- doing following a formal investigation.

Gda Sgt Michael Galvin (48) told friends he feared he would go to jail, and in the early hours of last Thursday he used a garda-issue handgun to take his own life at Ballyshannon Garda Station in Co Donegal.

The Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) admitted last night that Sgt Galvin had been cleared of any wrongdoing five days earlier, but a formal letter confirming this had not been issued. 

Senior gardai are to meet Ombudsman staff today over the case. There is considerable anger within the force, the Herald reports today.

Sgt Galvin's widow, Colette, received a standing ovation from hundreds of officers and friends as she spoke at her husband's funeral, where she described the investigation as "horrendous".

Friends and colleagues wept at St Clare's Church in Manorhamilton, Co Leitrim, as Mrs Galvin recalled her life with her husband and their three children.

"He was a man who loved his job," she said. "I was introduced to him in Sligo in October 1997 when he was the captain of the Sligo football and hurling teams. He was my Roy Keane.

"I often asked him which of his achievements he was most proud of, and he always pointed to our three children.

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"I hope that after today all decent and honest members of An Garda Siochana will be allowed to do their jobs without horrendous and unnecessary investigations by GSOC."

Mourners including Deputy Commissioner Kieran Kennedy responded with a three-minute ovation.

Sgt Galvin was being investigated following a fatal road incident in Ballyshannon in the early hours of last New Year's Day.

Sheena Stewart (33), from Letterkenny, died when she was hit by a minibus taxi.

Sgt Galvin had driven past Ms Stewart earlier that morning. When asked if he had seen her, he had told investigators that he believed he had seen her on a footpath in Ballyshannon.

CCTV footage, however, showed she had been standing at the edge of the road when the garda patrol car passed her.

Friends say Sgt Galvin had been expecting a verbal warning for what they say was "an honest mistake".

However, in recent weeks, Sgt Galvin told friends that he may face criminal charges including a charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Sgt Galvin had an exemplary record and was widely known in GAA circles having managed the Sligo hurling team. More than 2,500 people attended his funeral on Sunday, many of them from GAA clubs in Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal.

GSOC confirmed in a statement to the Irish Independent that Sgt Galvin would not have faced any charges, a spokesperson saying: "This decision was reached ten days ago but a letter confirming this (to Sgt Galvin) had not been issued.

"We are conducting an internal review of all the circumstances of the case."