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Sister of George Nkencho asks Justice Minister to ensure investigation into his death is independent

“We were very anxious to bring home to her the huge loss of my brother, George, and for my parents the devastating loss of their son and our burning need for justice and truth.”

Gloria Nkencho

Brendan Kelly Palenque

The sister of the late George Nkencho has asked the Minister for Justice to ensure the investigation into her brother's death is independent.

Mr Nkencho, 27, was shot dead by Gardaí outside his west Dublin home on December 30 after a standoff outside his house.

He had been involved in a confrontation at a local convenience store, and the incident later culminated in a standoff outside his home in Clonee during which he was carrying a knife.

Yesterday afternoon, his family met with Minister Helen McEntee about the ongoing investigation into his death.

Speaking on behalf of the family, his sister Gloria said: “We thank Minister McEntee for agreeing to meet family members today.

“We were very anxious to bring home to her the huge loss of my brother, George, and for my parents the devastating loss of their son and our burning need for justice and truth.”

One of the issues raised by the family was the need for a full and independent investigation into the shooting.

“This surely must be the biggest blemish in decades for Gardaí - to shoot dead a young person with no history of criminality, just a history of mental health struggles,” Gloria said.

She referenced a recent case in which gardaí successfully disarmed a man who had stabbed another man.

"Why was the same not done with George - who we emphasise did not stab anyone?” she said.

Ms Nkencho added that her family have had some issues with the ongoing Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) investigation, including: “The eight week delay interviewing family members who witnessed events; the 11-week delay getting statements from Garda members of the ARU; failing to gather evidence, footage and witness testimony in a timely and efficient manner.”

"We can also express concern that it [the investigation] is not independent... it is our expression due to our experience… If we are experiencing something that is different to our reality we have a right to voice it.”

A spokesperson for GSOC said in a statement that: “The investigation is continuing into the circumstances surrounding the death of Mr George Nkencho. The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission is carrying out an independent investigation in accordance with the State’s obligations under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.”

“A family liaison officer (FLO) was appointed by GSOC on the evening of Mr Nkencho’s death and has been in contact with the family since then, providing the services of an FLO. The FLO service will continue throughout the investigation as is the normal practice in such cases.

“GSOC has a statutory duty to provide updates on the progress of the investigation to certain interested parties, including the Garda Commissioner, the Minister for Justice and Equality, and the Policing Authority.”

Ms Nkencho said the only way to get justice would be through a properly resourced public inquiry exploring therole of mental health, class and race in Garda actions on the date of her brother’s death.

She said a forum was needed between Gardaí and Black and minority communities.

“We put it to the Minister that the Blanchardstown area is the most diverse in the country and will be a test case for how the Gardaí relate with Black people and minorities into the future,” she said.

“Our family has been patient and not jumped to conclusions about the role played by race in George’s killing.”

Father of the family Francis Nkencho said that Minister McEntee should meet regularly with members of the Black community to address issues of racism. He added that any Garda being investigated should not still be working.

“It pains us that the Garda who fired the shots that day has not been suspended while the investigation is on but still has access to police colleagues, computers, etc,” Francis said.

Speaking about his own grief, he said that: “We never want to see such a tragedy happen to any family from any background ever again.”

George’s aunt, Grace Anyanwu, also discussed the impact his death has had on the community.

“They need to work on this,” she said. “Our children are scared of going outside. I am mad, I am not happy. I am very angry, because we are not getting the results we want. We need a public investigation… so that it can give us the right to speak and be listened to.”

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