Ceremony honours 88 brave officers who lost their lives in line of duty
The heroism of gardai killed in the line of duty was commemorated at the annual Memorial Day at Dublin Castle yesterday.
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan contrasted their sacrifice and bravery to the "ignominious cowardice" of those who sought to undermine the way of life in Ireland.
The 88 gardai who lost their lives upholding law, order and peace in Ireland since the foundation of the State are an inspiration and example for all, he said.
Families and loved ones of many of the deceased officers were present at the dignified open-air ceremony.
Mr Flanagan said: "In their work they typified the values that characterise what is best about An Garda Siochana - unstinting commitment to country, community and family; personal bravery, a spirit of determined public service and fearless dedication to their fellow citizens and to this State.
"We recognise the service that they gave to the State and the sacrifices they made and their heroic bravery puts in sharp contrast the ignominious cowardice of those who sought to undermine our way of life.
"Today is a reminder, if any was needed, of the dangers encountered by the men and women of An Garda Siochana. We should never underestimate the difficulties they face on our behalf and we are thankful for their courage," he said.
Speaking of the nation's debt to those who lost their lives, he said: "Their sacrifice will not be in vain; the members of An Garda Siochana who risk their lives in facing down those, who by their cowardly actions, seek to destroy the peace of our communities and our country, have the full support of the Government and the communities north and south of the Border."
The Government is committed to ensuring the force is properly resourced for their "important role in protecting our communities", he added.
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said the 88 officers who lost their lives had embodied the very definition of bravery. Officers are called to put their lives on the line to keep the people of Ireland safe every day.
Families who lost loved ones in the line of duty carry a heavy burden, he said.
"Policing is a calling. We are drawn to help others. To protect those who can't protect themselves. To keep our communities safe. To bring to justice those who seek to hurt others. That is what our 88 fallen gardai exemplify," said Commissioner Harris.
"We that serve have a high bar to live up to.
"We must live their legacy every day. We will do this through respect for the people we serve. Through respect for each other. And respect for the values of the Garda Siochana," he said.
The garda badge was not only a symbol of authority but of "justice, fairness, bravery, and community", he added.
The garda band and two pipers from the Police Service of Northern Ireland joined in playing a moving rendition of the hymn Amazing Grace. The garda choir also performed.
Prayers were offered by representatives of several religions.
Several prayers were offered during the ceremony, including prayers for deceased members of existing and former police forces on the island, including An Garda Siochana, the Dublin Metropolitan Police, the Royal Irish Constabulary, the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the Police Service of Northern Ireland.