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'We are all deeply saddened' - President and Taoiseach among those to pay tribute to Garda Colm Horkan

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Michael D Higgins

Michael D Higgins

Michael D Higgins

President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar were among those to pay tribute to "upstanding" Garda Detective Colm Horkan, who was shot dead last night.

Detective Horkan was shot dead with his own gun after attending call-out in the town of Castlerea, Co Mayo late last night.

President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar were among those to pay tribute after Garda Horkan's "tragic death".

"News of the tragic death of a Garda detective on duty in Castlerea has come as a shock to us all," President Higgins said in a statement today.

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Detective Garda Colm Horkan

Detective Garda Colm Horkan

Detective Garda Colm Horkan

"It is appalling what is alleged to have happened. Of course it's such a blow to Colm Horkan's family and his colleagues and his friends and the death of a garda, active on duty, is a blow to us all.

"My sympathy goes out to the incredible loss his family will have suffered, but also to those who have worked with him and bearing in mind also that he is somebody who has given more than 20 years service to the keeping of peace in the interest of all of the people.

"The death of a garda is a blow to the whole community and every member in it."

Mr Horkan, a native of Charlestown, Co Mayo, served with an Garda Síochána for 24 years, and was stationed in Ballaghaderreen, Roscommon.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said that Mr Horkan served with distinction and pride.

"I am deeply saddened by the death of my colleague," he said.

"My thoughts, and the thoughts of all personnel in An Garda Síochána, are with the family, friends and colleagues of "Detective Garda Colm Horkan at Castlerea Garda Station and the Detective Unit he served in.

"Colm served the communities he worked in with distinction and pride during his 24 years as a member of An Garda Síochána."

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar also expressed “deepest sympathies” to the man’s family and friends, saying: “Every day our Gardai put themselves on the frontline of crime prevention, on behalf of all of us. This requires regular acts of bravery and courage. Sometimes the outcome is tragic and a Garda makes the ultimate sacrifice in the course of their duties.”

In a statement Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan expressed his shock and sadness.

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Forensic officers at the scene on Main Street in Castlerea, Co Roscommon this morning. Photo: Mark Condren

Forensic officers at the scene on Main Street in Castlerea, Co Roscommon this morning. Photo: Mark Condren

Forensic officers at the scene on Main Street in Castlerea, Co Roscommon this morning. Photo: Mark Condren

“I want to express my heartfelt sympathy to the parents and family of the brave Garda who died doing his duty serving his community and to the wider family of An Garda Siochana who will be heartbroken.

“Our gardai work to keep Ireland safe at all times and this is a very difficult day for all of them and their families,” he said.

Gardaí in Co Roscommon are said to be working professionally and diligently today, although the loss of their colleague has left a telling loss.

President of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) Antoinette Cunningham said she was “devastated”.

She offered deepest sympathies to the officer’s family and colleagues on “a sad sad day for An Garda Síochána“.

Fr John McManus, parish priest in Castlerea, said that he received a call from the local garda station at around midnight to attend the scene and offer the deceased garda a final blessing.

"Sadly, like many of my own colleagues, you're never sure what the next phone call may be. Often when you do hear a call from the garda station you are going out to something very tragic. Little did I know it was one of their own colleagues last night," he said on RTÉ Radio One Morning Ireland.

"Always and forever they are so professional on the scene in their guidance and direction, and I thought so poignantly last night in the stillness and silence and shock of the incident that they were there praying with me for their colleague."

This incident comes almost 40 years since Henry Byrne and John Morley, two members of An Garda Síochána, were shot dead while attending the scene of a bank robbery in Castlerea. Fr McManus said that the community has particularly felt the blow of the now three losses because they are "very much a part of the community" and widely respected in the Roscommon town.

"Our prayers and thoughts are very much with his family, relatives and his colleagues here in Castlerea and gardaí everywhere," he said.

Local TD Denis Naughten said he is “absolutely shocked and saddened“ to hear of the tragedy.

“This is devastating news for his family, the dedicated team of gardai in Castlerea and the community. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time,” he said.

Sligo Leitrim TD Frank Feighan, originally from Boyle in Co Roscommon, also paid his sympathies.

“It’s awful news to be hearing from Castlerea. Thoughts and prayers to his family and loved ones. Also his colleagues and friends in Garda Siochana,” he tweeted.

Roscommon MEP Luke 'Ming' Flanagan said: "Everyone is stunned by the news from Castlerea last night. May he rest in peace. Such a sad day."

Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald was among others in the political world also to express her sympathy.

"Sympathies and prayers with family, friends and an Garda Siochána colleagues of the Garda Officer killed last night. A shocking, senseless loss," she said.

Leader of the Labour Party Leader, Alan Kelly, said: “The news coming from Castlerea this morning is absolutely awful.

“What happened to Detective Horkan is a stark reminder of the fact that members of An Garda Síochána put their lives on the line every single day."

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson for Justice, Jim O’Callaghan condemned "the brutal shooting".

“The brutal killing of a member of An Garda Siochána in the line of duty is appalling. The garda detective was shot dead while working to keep his community safe," he said.

"This was not just an attack on one individual; it was an attack on civilised society. We need to send out the message loud and clear that we will simply not tolerate this brutal brand of criminality against members of An Garda Síochana."

Fine Gael’s Seanad spokesperson on Justice and Equality, Senator Martin Conway added: "This brutal tragedy has shocked the nation. We are all thinking of Detective Garda Horkan’s family, relations, friends and colleagues at this desperately sad time.

“Every single day of the year, gardaí serve their community and protect the State. It is deeply saddening that another member of the force has been killed in the line of duty."

Minister for Health Simon Harris said: "Shocking and devastating news this morning from Castlerea. Thoughts and prayers with the family, friends and colleagues of the Garda. An attack on a Garda is an attack on all of us. Every day they work to keep us all safe."

Leader of the SDLP in Northern Ireland, Colum Eastwood MP added: "Like many others, I was shocked to hear that member of An Garda Síochána was shot and killed last night in Roscommon.

“My thoughts today are with the family, friends and colleagues of Detective Garda Colm Horkan as they come to terms with this tragedy. Police and Gardaí across this island put themselves at great personal risk to serve our communities, to lose dedicated public servants like this is tragic."

“I hope that those responsible are brought to justice quickly.”

Gardaí joined in prayers last night in the Co Roscommon town for their colleague. Along with the thoughts of local parish priest Fr McManus, the Archdiocese of Dublin tweeted today: "In all our prayers today we remember the family, friends and Garda colleagues of Detective Garda Colm Horkan, tragically killed in the line of duty in Roscommon last night.

"May he Rest in Peace."

Online Editors