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Wednesday 17 September 2014

Inspector Connolly calls time on career

Emma Gallagher

Published 19/07/2014 | 12:00

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l-r: Inspector Paul Kilcoyne, Mr Gerard McGovern, solicitor, Mr Hugh Sheridan, State Solicitor, Judge Kevin Kilrane, retiring Inspector Gerry Connolly, Caroline Connolly, Treena Hever, court clerk and Mr Tom MacSharry, solicitor andvice chairman of Sligo County Council
Retiring Inspector Gerry Connolly with his daughter, Caroline, on his last day at Sligo Distict Court.

Tributes flowed for retiring Inspector Gerry Connolly on his last day in Sligo District Court on Thursday.

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Tributes flowed for retiring Inspector Gerry Connolly on his last day in Sligo District Court on Thursday.

Many of his current and former colleagues were in court to wish him well, including former Chief Superintendent, Jim Sheridan.

Gerry's daughter, Caroline, a solicitor based in Dublin was also there.

Mr Gerard McGovern, spoke on behalf of his colleagues in the legal profession.

He said that Gerry was a pleasure to deal with down through the years.

He called him a diligent prosecutor, a fair man to people before the court and members of the legal profession.

"Gerry has a vast knowledge of the law.

"He always kept up to date and carried a briefcase with him with recent cases.

"He has many friends from his 40 years' service, also in Manorhamilton, where he worked for many years."

Gerry was highly respected and his phone was never off, even when he wasn't working, Mr McGovern added.

"On behalf of my colleagues, I wish you well and hope you have a good retirement with your wife Ita, three children and grandchildren, who you are very proud of."

Hugh Sheridan, State Solicitor, spoke on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

He described Mr Connolly's retirement as 'a sad day'.

"It is inevitable that everyone must retire.

"I have known Gerry since I first came to Sligo, when he was a Sergeant and then a Detective Sergeant.

"He was always very approachable, a born leader.

"He was a leader and a motivator second to none.

"I wish him the very best in his retirement.

"This court and Garda station will be a poorer place in his absence," Mr Sheridan said.

Inspector Colm Nevin paid tribute to his retiring colleague on behalf of Superintendent Mary Murray and members of the Gardai.

He said that Mr Connolly joined the force in 1974.

He was stationed in Carrick on Shannon, Manorhamilton and Sligo.

He was promoted to the rank of Inspector in 1999 and has been a prosecutor at the courts since, in counties Sligo and Leitrim.

Mr Nevin added: "Gerry has great knowledge and was helpful to new Superintendents and fellow Inspectors.

"If there was ever a difficulty, we could ask Gerry for advice.

"I wish you the very best."

Treena Hever, court clerk, described Mr Connolly as a 'fountain of knowledge.'

Judge Kevin Kilrane also paid tribute.

He said: "It seems that we must be pushing on in life.

"I was starting out as a solicitor when Gerry Connolly was a Garda.

"I've known him from when he was in Carrick on Shannon and later as a Sergeant in Manorhamilton."

He said that as a Garda, Sergeant and Prosecutor, Mr Connolly displayed a balance that was hard to find nowadays.

"He never lost a sense of balance.

"There is a huge drive nowadays to treat every case the same, which is wrong, as every case is different."

He said that the Inspector had great humanity and could always be relied on as being fair and accurate.

"He will be missed.

"It will take an exceptional person to replace Inspector Connolly; those shoes will be hard filled," Judge Kilrane added.

Mr Connolly then thanked those who spoke for their kind comments.

"They are not all deserved, but on the day, I'll take them.

"Forty years is a long time in any profession.

"I have seen a lot of change in the force and the courts.

"The first courts to close were Collooney, Grange, Skreen, Easkey and Ballymote in Sligo, and others in Leitrim and Roscommon.

"Those were big changes for us all."

He thanked Mr McGovern for his 'kind words', adding that the had the 'odd' battle here and there.

"We all had our own jobs to do, some were not pleasant.

"However, if we had a battle, it always stopped at the door of the court, that is the way it should be."

He mentioned working alongside retired judge Oliver McGuinness, and present judges Conal Gibbons and Kevin Kilrane.

He told Judge Kilrane: "Whenever I met you in your former life, you were a great man in court as we all sat up.

"You would pull out a new case law and try to create it, although you never caught someone out, you were a gentleman in that way.

"You have brought many of those traits to the bench, being firm and fair.

"I thank you for your courtesy down through the years."

Inspector Connolly also thanked the press for their service.

He said that the highlight for him in Sligo court was his daughter, Caroline's first day as a solicitor.

He will retire on July 18th.

Sligo Champion

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