Shooting hero to be Ireland envoy

Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers, hailed as a hero for killing the gunman who stormed Canada's parliament last year, will be named ambassador to Ireland. (AP/The Canadian Press, Adrian Wyld)

The Canadian sergeant-at-arms who was hailed a hero for killing the gunman who stormed Canada's Parliament last year is to become the country's ambassador to Ireland, the prime minister has announced.

Kevin Vickers, an Irish-Canadian, has been feted by world leaders ever since the attack in Ottawa on October 22.

The white-haired former Mountie saved countless lives by shooting Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, who had just killed a soldier posted at the nearby National War Memorial and then charged into Parliament with a handgun and opened fire.

Mr Vickers shot Zehaf-Bibeau, a petty criminal and recent convert to Islam, as he moved from behind a pillar to get a better shot at the sergeant-at-arms.

The day after the attack, Mr Vickers received a standing ovation as he entered the parliament chamber in his black robe, For more than two minutes, politicians applauded and pounded their desks.

At first expressionless and motionless, Mr Vickers eventually responded with a few slight nods of his head, his lips quivering with emotion.

"Kevin Vickers has shown profound leadership and a dedication to the security of Canada and its national institutions," Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement today.

"His extensive experience working with Parliament, as well as his bravery and integrity, will serve to deepen close bilateral relations between Canada and Ireland in the years ahead."

In the Ireland role, Mr Vickers replaces Loyola Hearn, a former Conservative politician and Cabinet minister who was appointed in 2010.

Mr Vickers, 58, had a lengthy career in policing before joining the House of Commons security staff in 2005 and becoming sergeant-at-arms in 2006. His current job - a mix of the ceremonial and the practical - encompasses the maintenance of safety and security in the Parliament complex.

He was born in New Brunswick and spent much of his police career there.

His son, Andrew, has carried on the family tradition as a police officer in the city of Miramichi. Andrew was once lauded in the federal Parliament for diving into the freezing, fast-flowing Miramichi River to rescue a drowning woman who was trying to kill herself.