Politics

First anniversary of killing of George Nkencho marked with candlelit vigil

More than 100 protesters held a vigil outside Blanchardstown Garda station on Thursday to mark the anniversary of the killing of George Nkencho, who was shot during a stand-off with gardaí.

Members of the Nkencho family carried a banner calling for a public inquiry into the killing, while demonstrators held candles.

Mr Nkencho (27) was shot to death by a member of the Armed Support Unit outside his home in Clonee, Dublin 15, on December 30th, 2020, during a stand-off with gardaí. He was armed with a knife and suffering from mental health difficulties at the time.

An investigation by the Garda Ombudsman (Gsoc) into the shooting remains ongoing, despite previous indications it would be completed by the first anniversary of his death.

Speaking at the vigil, Gloria Nkencho said she had not been prepared for “a life without” her older brother.

“We haven’t forgotten, and we will never forget, and we will continue to make noise, and we will continue to come out and remind you that George Nkencho’s life mattered,” she told the crowd.

A candlelit walk to Blanchardstown Garda station to mark the one-year anniversary of the killing of George Nkencho. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times
A candlelit walk to Blanchardstown Garda station to mark the one-year anniversary of the killing of George Nkencho. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

The family had sat together on Christmas Day this year with “one less person” present, she said.

“We’ve lived in Blanchardstown for probably 19 years, this has been our home . . . in the last year we have felt like aliens, we have felt isolated, we have felt not important,” she said.

She said the family had received threats in the aftermath of the killing, which ignited racial tensions in the west Dublin community.

The crowd gathered in the rain to remember Mr Nkencho on Thursday evening reminded the family “that we matter in this community”, she said.

‘Ill equipped’

Leon Diop, founder of the group Black and Irish, said the killing showed how “ill equipped” Irish society was at dealing with someone during a mental health crisis. It was only by “working together” that “flaws” in the policing system could be challenged, he added.

Liam Herrick, executive director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) said any investigation into the killing needed to examine all the circumstances leading up to the shooting.

Mr Herrick said that if the family and community did not feel “that justice has been fully served” following the Gsoc investigation and the inquest into Mr Nkencho’s death, there may be a need for a “fully independent investigation”.

Family and friends at a candlelit vigil held in honour of George Nkencho to mark the first anniversary of his death, at Blanchardstown Garda Station. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Family and friends at a candlelit vigil held in honour of George Nkencho to mark the first anniversary of his death, at Blanchardstown Garda station. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Israel Ibeanu, a friend and former football team-mate of Mr Nkencho, said the youth in the community were still “hurt and angry”.

In a statement, the Nkencho family said the year since the killing had been “catastrophic”.

“What happened to George should never have happened. Whatever George did, he should be alive today,” the statement said.

The family called for a public inquiry into the killing, adding that they were “disappointed” the ongoing Gsoc inquiry had not been completed.

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