Gardai and community stunned by hero's death
FRIENDS of the young garda who was killed trying to help motorists during Monday's floods last night gathered near his home to honour a "true gentleman".
Off-duty garda Ciaran Jones (25), from Manor Kilbride, Co Wicklow, was killed as he diverted traffic from the dangerously flooded Ballysmuttan Bridge near his home. He was swept into the River Liffey at around 7pm on Monday.
His body was recovered at 9am yesterday around 4km from where he went in. Friends and family left flowers on the bridge yesterday.
A friend of the family told the Irish Independent that Garda Jones's parents Brenda and John had returned from holidays and were staying with relatives. They were grieving with his sister Michelle and brother Alan, who apparently witnessed the incident.
"I grew up with Ciaran my whole life and everyone is devastated, there's nothing more to say," said Cathy McEnroe, who joined friends in a nearby house last night.
"He was a community man, everything that was going on he was there, he was involved," she added.
Garda Jones played football for Kilbride at junior level and for Wicklow on the senior panel. He was based at Stepaside, Co Dublin, and may be awarded a state funeral, depending on the wishes of his family.
Former Wicklow country manager Mick O'Dwyer said the young man was a gentleman and a talented footballer.
"He was an exceptional young footballer, a really skilful player and a fantastic striker of the ball," Mr O'Dwyer said.
"He was so committed to his job that he found it difficult to train at times and he also had some bad luck with some injuries as he came through.
"But most of all, he was an outstanding young gentleman. You just couldn't meet a finer young man," he added.
A garda colleague of the west Wicklow man, who trained with him in Templemore, said the force was in shock following the tragedy.
"It's awful news. All gardai, especially those who trained with him, are in real shock," the garda said.
"He was a quiet chap but really a good guy who was into his football and gym work."
Tributes for Garda Jones also came from senior government and garda officials.
Justice Minister Alan Shatter said that his courageous actions were in the finest tradition of An Garda Siochana.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny also offered his condolences to the Jones family.
Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan said Garda Jones had been a valued and highly regarded member of both An Garda Siochana and his local community.
Wicklow Fine Gael TD Billy Timmins said the local community was "in a state of utter shock".
"I am deeply shocked, the whole area is devastated," he said.
"It's just so tragic for a community like this to lose one of its leading lights."
KEVIN MYERS ON A GARDA HERO: PAGE 31