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Friday 20 July 2018

'System failing' those at scene of Carrickmines fire - garda

Gardai and emergency services at the scene of the tragic Carrickmines fire in October 2015
Gardai and emergency services at the scene of the tragic Carrickmines fire in October 2015

A garda who responded to the tragic Carrickmines fire has been out of work for more than 15 months as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

In total 10 people, including six-month-old baby Mary Connors, died when the halting site caught fire on October 10, 2015.

A number of emergency service agencies responded to the tragedy, including gardai, the HSE and Dublin Fire Brigade.

However, a garda sergeant has said that welfare support was not available for officers at the scene, and several gardai are suspected to be suffering from PTSD.

At least one garda has been diagnosed with the disorder, and Sergeant Tim Galvin believes that there are several more who have been left deeply affected by the tragedy.

"I've never seen anything like it. There are some that are working, who have it [PTSD], but won't admit they have it. And that's where the system is failing," the Dun Laoghaire-based officer said.

"I can flag it. There is stigma attached to putting the hand up and saying, 'I have a problem because of this'.

Triggers

"Luckily enough, the one lad who has spoken has gotten the treatment and is getting there slowly but surely.

"His effect will be any incident where there's a child involved, it triggers it again."

The mid-ranking officer added that the garda in question has been out of work for 15 months and has called for a better welfare system to be put in place for members.

Sgt Galvin was speaking yesterday at the 40th annual conference of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) in Tullow, Co Carlow.

Acting Garda Commissioner Donall O Cualain also attended the conference and said that he had a "complete commitment" to the welfare of the organisation's members.

He said he has put welfare at the top of his agenda since joining An Garda Siochana in a supervisory role before being promoted to management level.

"If we have happy people at work we all work better. It is a dangerous workplace we have and everyone is aware of that," he said.

"We are in the space of improving that service by giving more resources to it."

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