Wednesday 22 November 2017

Minister and Commissioner arrive late to memorial service

Archdeacon calls for more support for gardai at annual commemoration service in Dublin Castle

BIG HUG: Anne McCabe, widow of Garda Jerry McCabe, greets Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan. Photo: David Conachy
BIG HUG: Anne McCabe, widow of Garda Jerry McCabe, greets Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan. Photo: David Conachy
Jim Cusack

Jim Cusack

The Minister for Justice and Garda Commissioner both missed yesterday's annual memorial service for gardai killed in the line of duty.

Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan turned up at the Dublin Castle event as it was ending, having "just landed" from a trip abroad.

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

The pair missed an impassioned call by the Church of Ireland Archdeacon of Dublin, the Venerable David Pierpoint, for politicians to stop looking for Garda management "heads on platters" over recent controversies and to instead show their support for the force.

About 600 people were at the ceremony, including the family and friends of 88 gardai killed in the line of duty. Most victims were killed by the IRA.

A Garda spokesman said the Commissioner 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 gardai with the ­proper resources to do their job efficiently, effectively and in safety. That is what really matters.

"There is no doubt 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 fallout. 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 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 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, to act on our behalf to help prevent further evil from threatening our freedom and peace."

Fitzgerald arrived after attending Varadkar's event in nearby Dublin City Hall.

O'Sullivan turned up dressed in civilian clothes and said she had "just landed", it is understood from holiday with her husband Chief Superintendent Jim McGowan.

Among those in attendance were 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. Anne McCabe, widow of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe, who was also shot dead by the IRA, was also in attendance.

It is not thought Caroline Donohoe, widow of Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe, was present, though she attended earlier memorials. Det Garda Donohoe was shot in January 2013 by a gang with south Armagh IRA connections during a robbery at the Lordship Credit Union in Dundalk.

US officials reportedly detained one of the suspects in his killing last Thursday.

It is anticipated the suspect will be arrested if he returns to Ireland via Dublin, but it is thought he also has a UK passport, which would entail him being extradited to Britain.

Sunday Independent

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