Gardai Did Not Get Mental Health Care until Two Weeks after Carrickmines Tragedy; AGSI CONFERENCE; Officers at Blaze Suffering from PTSD; Former President in Welfare Services Call

The Mirror (London, England), March 28, 2018 | Go to article overview

Gardai Did Not Get Mental Health Care until Two Weeks after Carrickmines Tragedy; AGSI CONFERENCE; Officers at Blaze Suffering from PTSD; Former President in Welfare Services Call


Byline: NIALL O'CONNOR in Carlow

GARDAI dealing with the horrific Carrickmines fire tragedy suffered serious mental health problems after management took two weeks to provide help, it has been claimed.

Eleven members of a Traveller family - five adults, five children and an unborn baby - died when their caravan burst into flames in October 2015.

Sergeant Tim Galvin, one of the officers on the scene in South Dublin, said some of his colleagues suffered severe post-traumatic stress disorder.

But the annual conference of the Association Of Garda Sergeants And Inspectors heard the force's mental health services fell short and one officer is still receiving medical care.

Willie Lynch, 25, and pregnant Tara Gilbert, 27, died alongside their daughters Kelsey and Jodie.

The other victims were Thomas Connors, 27, his wife Sylvia, 25, and their children Jim, five, Christy, two, and sixmonth-old Mary, along with Willie's 39-year-old brother Jimmy.

Sgt Galvin was speaking on day two of the gathering in Carlow during which the area of welfare and mental health problems was explored.

A former president of the AGSI, he said the horror of Carrickmines lives with each of his officers every day. He added: "This was definitely the most traumatic of incidents - I have never seen anything like it.

"Some of the members have been out sick with PTSD and there are others who are still working who will not admit they have it.

"That is where the system is falling down - I can flag it but there is a stigma to putting up your hands and saying you have a serious mental problem. They are afraid to speak."

One of the gardai involved has been out on long-term sick because of mental health issues caused by the blaze.

Sgt Galvin said: "The one lad that has spoken has got treatment and he is starting to come around.

"His issue is that any incident involving a child triggers him. That man was 15 months out of work and he has come back and then gone sick again.

"It affected him hugely - he has three young kids and that didn't help.

"One of them was the same age as the youngest child in the fire."

Sgt Galvin added the fire service and other agencies had PLEDGE Donal O'Cualain counsellors at the scene but it was left to the sergeant and another colleague to provide help. …

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