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Judge leads tributes as garda set to retire

A GARDA who is retiring after 30 years "broke down the barrier" between officers and young offenders.

Judge Elizabeth MacGrath led tributes yesterday at the Dublin Children's Court to Garda Pascal O'Brien.

A Dublin native, who has been attached to number of stations, including Mountjoy and the Bridewell, he has been a fixture, at the Children's Court, in Smithfield, in north inner city Dublin, for the past 13 years.

Here, he built up a strong rapport with troubled youths and their parents to whom he offered advice and support.

Ever watchful, he frequently stepped in and calmed potentially violent situations when tensions among youths at the courthouse threatened to erupt.

Earlier this week two youths, former defendants at the court, dropped in to say they wished him the best for his future,

And yesterday, on his last day in the juvenile court, he was praised by colleagues, the presiding judge and lawyers.

Before proceedings started, Judge MacGrath said: "I know that you were one of the back bones of this court."

Lawyer Sarah Molloy described Garda O'Brien's work as "amazing" and added: "On behalf of the solicitors, thanks a million for all the help and support.

"You broke down the barrier that sometimes exists between solicitors and gardai and clients and gardai as well."