"THE MEMORY OF JESUS IS BOTH SACRED AND SUBVERSIVE"
Monday, 10 April 2017
HONORARY CHIEF INSPECTOR
Honorary garda who became the much loved station ‘boss’
Mickey Edmonds had a rare disability but knew all about forms which baffled management, writes Jim Cusack
Sunday Independent (Ireland)
FOR over 40 years, gardai in Kevin Street Garda Station in Dublin cared for a mentally disabled man, Mickey Edmonds. From childhood, he had hung around the gates of the station and was eventually brought inside if it was cold or raining.
There was no State remedial care available, so it was provided by gardai. They tried to teach him to read and write but he had no comprehension of letters, never mind, words.
Mickey was one of the fortunate disabled children in Ireland in the 1960s in that he had both a loving home and an extraordinary garda station where he was also loved and looked after. He was eventually diagnosed with the syndrome, Fragile X. He died in October 2011 aged 53.
In his final years, gardai cared for him with a tenderness that was touching to witness. Dozens of them were in tears at his funeral.
Mickey’s presence in Kevin Street was against regulations but he was such a part of the station community that it became unthinkable that he would be thrown out. Remarkably, he learned by sight every single official Garda form and adapted so much to his surroundings that he took on the persona of a garda, even to the extent of speaking in a mid-Western accent and describing a car as a ‘veh-hehicle’.
Young gardai found Mickey indispensable as he knew far more about forms and procedure than they did and often saved them embarrassment in front of their seniors. The Kevin Street units gave him honorary titles right up to ‘chief inspector’ when he reached his 40s. They bought him a new suit every year and he looked the part, even slight- ly resembling Tom Hanks. During breaks in the often intense work in Kevin Street, young gardai took him out in the car, telling him if anyone asked, he was the ‘detective superintendent’. Mickey actually assumed and perfectly emulated the authoritarian head of detectives, PJ Browne, which amused the young gardai even more.
Kevin Street gardai are part of the community and make an enormous effort every year to raise money for charities that do particular good work in their district. Last year’s charity cycle by their ‘Tour de Force’ team was in Romania and was launched at the Ballsbridge Embassy with full ceremony by Ambassador Manuela Breazu. The Romanian police helped guide the garda entourage through the Carpathian Mountains.
It’s a human compulsion to help the needy and much of that sense fed into the station’s soul, if that’s not putting it too highly. They dedicate their charitable work, all done on their own time and at their own expense, to the memory of a member of their family.
It’s a small-town story in a big city, just that it is surrounded by higher levels of crime, addiction and poverty.
Even though Mickey had major mental deficiencies, he had excellent visual discernment and knew by heart what forms went with which sets of circumstances just by looking at them. Two he learnt early on were the crime recording ones, C1 and C2, which are in frequent use in a ‘high crime’ area like the south inner city. The C1 recorded that a crime was committed; the C2 contained the detection and court outcome.
Many of the stations at the centre of the faked breath test results are in rural backwaters where there were previously very low levels of crime. Kevin Street has the highest serious crime rate in the country but it also has the highest, honest clear-up rates, possibly in part to a desire not to dishonour Mickey’s memory.
‘Kevin Street gave him titles right up to chief inspector’
PAT SAYS: I found this story of a disabled man adopted by a whole police station very touching. We are used to hearing about police stations as centres of brutality and places where the worst in human nature is dealt with. But here is a story of tremendous humanity breaking through. Mickey needed to be adopted and loved. The Gardai responded and found themselves in love too - and indeed humanised by the humanity and vulnerability that was Mickey. It is a reminder to us all that in a very cruel world there are still little miracles of love happening. Its like a flower blooming in a crack in ugly concrete.
As a human being this story gives me hope. As a Christian it reminds me that the Holy Spirit of God is still alive in many hearts and indeed can turn hearts of stone into fleshy hearts of love.