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Thursday 23 November 2017

Hundreds attend ceremony to commemorate gardai killed in line of duty

Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Jim Cusack

Jim Cusack

Hundreds of people attended a ceremony to commemorate gardai killed in line of duty earlier today.

Minister Frances Fitzgerald was attending the launch of the Fine Gael leadership bid by Leo Varadkar and arrived as the Garda memorial ceremony was ending.

There was an impassioned call by the Church of Ireland Archdeacon for Dublin, the Venerable David Pierpoint, for politicians to stop looking for garda management ‘heads on platters’ over the controversies in the Garda and show their support for the force.

The ceremony was attended by around 600 people including the family and friends of 88 gardai killed in the line of duty. Most of the gardai who didn’t die in accidents were murdered by the IRA. The annual service in the Garda Memorial Garden is generally not attended by Sinn Fein.

It was not clear why Commissioner O’Sullivan was not in attendance though a spokesman said she was ‘on leave’. Deputy Commissioner Donal O Cualain officiated in her absence.

The Ven Pierpoint said: “In this country, we are about to see a change in political leadership and no doubt change in ministerial appointments. It is my constant hope and prayer that those in political authority see An Garda Siochana as that group of men and women who constantly put their lives on the line for each one of us. “Politicians should concentrate their efforts, not on looking for management heads to roll but on providing all our Gardaí with the proper resources to do their job, efficiently, effectively and in safety. That is what really matters. There is no doubt that there are issues within our force which need to be addressed and reformed, which are currently being investigated, and I urge all politicians and the general public, to allow time for the processes currently in place to reach conclusions. When that is done, then examine how best to deal with the fall out. I believe heads on platters will not solve any problems, but proper resources and renewed confidence in the force will.

“I ask all those in authority both at senior level in An Garda Siochana and at political level, as a matter of urgency, to work to restore confidence within the force and the confidence of our citizens in the members of the force, without which, the task of policing – of keeping the peace - is made that much more difficult.

“I had no intention for these few words to suggest what is right or wrong about our society, but with violence, terrorism, unrest, and many other anti- social behaviours, comes a need for men and women, like the members of An Garda Siochana in this jurisdiction and the PSNI in Northern Ireland to act on our behalf to help prevent further evil from threatening our freedom and peace.”

Minister Frances Fitzgerald was attending the launch of the Fine Gael leadership bid by Leo Varadkar in nearby Dublin City Hall and arrived as the Garda memorial ceremony was ending.

Commissioner O’Sullivan also arrived just as the service was ending. Dressed in civilian clothes she said she had ‘just landed’, it is understood from holiday with her husband Chief Superintendent Jim McGowan.

Among those in attendance were Mrs Breda Hand, widow of Garda Frank Hand who was shot dead by a gang of IRA bank robbers in Co Meath in August 1984 shortly after he and his wife, also a garda, returned from their honeymoon. Mrs Anne McCabe, widow of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe, also shot dead by the IRA, was also in attendance.

It is not thought Mrs Caroline Donohoe, widow of Det Garda Adrian Donohoe, shot  dead by a gang with south Armagh IRA connections in January 2013, was present though she had attended earlier memorials. The murder of Det Garda Donohoe was again in the news after Homeland Security in the United States was reported to have detained one of the suspects in the killing of Det Garda Donohoe during the robbery of the Lordship Credit Union in Dundalk. While it is anticipated the suspect will be arrested if he returns to Ireland via Dublin it is understood he also possesses a British passport which would entail him being extradited to the UK.

Online Editors

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