'We should never underestimate the difficulties they face' - Justice Minister pays tribute to gardai who lost their lives during service
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan paid tribute today to gardai who gave their lives in the line of duty.
He contrasted their sacrifice and bravery to the "ignominious cowardice" of those sought to undermine people's way of life in Ireland.
He was speaking at the annual Memorial Day for members of the force killed on duty. 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 officers who fell in the line of duty were present at the ceremony at Dublin Castle this afternoon.
In honouring the fallen, Minister Flanagan said: "In their work they typified the values that characterise what is best about An Garda Síochána – 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 Síochána. We should never underestimate the difficulties they face on our behalf and we are thankful for their courage.
"The Government is committed to supporting the work of An Garda Síochána and to ensuring that the organisation is properly resourced to carry out its important role in protecting our communities," said the minister.
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.
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 of the faithful were offered, 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 .