Paul Williams: Time to reflect on the selfless courage and dedication of gardaí on the frontline
Published 16/10/2015 | 02:30
They turned up in their thousands and formed a river of blue in solemn solidarity with their fallen comrade and brother officer, Tony Golden.
As they laid the latest garda hero to rest on a calm autumn day - the 88th officer to lose his life in the line of duty since the formation of An Garda Siochana - the whole nation mourned with them.
The decent people of Ireland - the silent majority - have always expressed universal shock and revulsion when one of their guardians of the peace is murdered needlessly while helping a vulnerable member of the community.
It is only when tragedies like this occur that we reflect on the selfless courage and dedication of our gardai as they put themselves in harms way on a daily basis to honour their oath to protect and serve.
This is also a time to reflect on the way these men and women in blue are treated in this modern society which depends on them so much.
In the past few years in particular they have had to tolerate in silence the deafening chorus of denunciation and myriad accusations - many of them false - from a noisy minority with an agenda to denigrate and undermine the gardai for their own ends.
The decent, law-abiding citizens who have been moved to tears by the death of this diligent officer, so cruelly snatched from his wife and three little children, should take time and see for themselves the kind of extraordinary abuse our gardai have to take each day.
A prime example can be found in the water protest videos posted on Youtube.
The well-orchestrated violent abuse the ordinary men and women in blue receive in those videos would make one wonder why in God's name anyone would do such a job - and for such poor pay.
The officers have endured being spat on, pushed, kicked, threatened and abused by thugs who hijack what would be otherwise lawful and legitimate protests.
These "protesters" - many of whom are members of dissident Republican gangs like Tony Golden's killer - have regularly targeted individual officers on social media appealing for their names and home addresses so that they can continue the intimidation.
How could anyone blame the officers on the frontline for feeling demoralised and unappreciated?
It is more than a little ironic that if it had not been for the steadfast loyalty of An Garda Siochana to this State over the past 90 years, these same protesters and the fulminating politicians in the Dail would not have the freedom of being so verbose.
The murder of Tony Golden has also focused attention on the chronic lack of resources and manpower which is putting the safety of gardai at serious risk.
As they return to their beats today it is likely that our gardai will be wondering, who will be next to fall.