New legislation to help protect serving gardai is being demanded by the Garda Representative Association, as details of the second young garda to die in the line of duty in Donegal in less than a year were heard at his inquest this week.
A statement from the GRA says that laws to protect serving members of An Garda Siochana are “out of balance and tipped to favour criminal behaviour”. On Tuesday, Letterkenny Coroners Court heard details of how Buncrana based 24-year-old Garda Gary McLoughlin from Fenagh, Co. Leitrim died the day after the patrol car he was driving was struck by a drunk driver who had travelled at speeds of up to 150kmph in an attempt to flea gardaí.
Martin McDermott, 25, of Castlegrove, Raphoe, was jailed last summer for seven years for the garda’s manslaughter.
Garda McLouglin’s death came nine months after 29-year-old Mayo born Garda Robert McCallion lost his battle for life almost two weeks after he was struck by a car while investigating a suspected car theft in Letterkenny in March 2009.
Jamie McGrenahan of Gortnatraw, Kerrykeel, was found not guilty of his manslaughter but was jailed for six years for dangerous driving causing his death, as well as endangering the lives of two other gardaí.
The GRA statement issued yesterday to the Democrat, said: “Garda Gary McLoughlin, like Garda Robbie McCallion before him, were performing their sworn duty on behalf of the people of Donegal when they were killed by criminals attempting to flee the law.
“All gardaí, when at work, are required to enforce the democratic principles of law and order. These men and women who go out to work to protect the rights of all citizens are themselves protected only by their uniform; a symbol of their moral authority and consent of their fellow citizens. None of this protected Garda McLoughlin or Garda McCallion.
“The law dictates that juries should not get entranced because the victim was a garda. We contend our laws are now out of balance and tipped to favour criminal behaviour,” it continued.
The GRA says that if legislation is introduced to help protect serving gardai then it would be a “fitting tribute” to the two fallen officers.
“As gardaí, we demand legislation that protects us in the course of our duty. If that were to be the legacy of these two gardaí then it would be a fitting tribute to two exceptional and upstanding young men who made the ultimate sacrifice,” the statement read.
FULL INQUEST REPORT IN TODAY’S DONEGAL DEMOCRAT.