Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA
An annual event to honour gardaí who died in the course of their duty has been held in Dublin.
Minister for Justice Helen McEntee and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris were among those who addressed the annual ceremony, held in the Dubhlinn Gardens at Dublin Castle on Saturday.
During the ceremony, the significance of the centenary year since the establishment of An Garda Síochána, and the return of the memorial as a public event after two years of Covid-19 restrictions, were mentioned.
Some 89 garda members have lost their lives in the line of duty.
The family members and friends of Detective Garda Colm Horkan, who was killed in Castlerea, Co Roscommon in June 2020, were among those in attendance.
Garda Commissioner Harris told those at the event: “When a garda goes to work each day, they don’t know what danger awaits them but they proceed regardless. For as long as this is so, there is hope.
“When the public know that there are gardaí of the calibre of the 89 who have fallen, An Garda Síochána is trusted and highly respected.
“Today is also about the families of the fallen who have suffered enormous loss.
“We must not forget that our colleagues were not alone in this sacrifice. In the end, their courage came at a heavy cost to you, their loved ones. I hope you can take some measure of solace from the extended garda family you have in us, who continue to serve.”
Breda Hand of The Garda Survivors’ Support Association, and Mark Gibbon of the Retired Members’ Association, along with Ms McEntee and Commissioner Harris, laid wreaths at the entrance to the Garda Síochána Memorial Gardens.
After several minutes’ silence, the national flag was hoisted and the Garda Band played the national anthem.
Speaking at the event, Ms McEntee raised the cases of three gardaí who were killed in the line of duty.
Garda Henry Phelan, who was shot and fatally wounded in a shop in Callan, Co Tipperary in November 1922; Garda Patrick Gerald Reynolds, who died 40 years ago this year when he was shot and fatally wounded during the search of a flat following a bank robbery; and Garda Adrian Donohoe, who was murdered in January 2013.
“These men are but three of the 89 names that are on the Garda roll of honour; 89 lives that ended far, far too soon. These Gardaí died in the service of the state and that is a debt that we can never fully repay but one that we want to remember and, indeed, one that we must remember.”
Ms McEntee paid tribute to all members of An Garda Síochána and to the families and friends of garda members.
“I want to acknowledge how difficult it can be for the family members or friend of a garda member.
“You live in the knowledge that your loved one may be put at personal risk when they go to work, when they leave the house every morning, and I want to thank you for supporting your family members – our Garda members – in the brave and selfless work that they do.”
During the ceremony, tributes were also paid to “our Ukrainian colleagues, their families and all the people who have been displaced”, and prayers were said for “the deceased members of the RUC and PSNI”.
This is the first time Ms McEntee has addressed the Garda Memorial event since becoming Minister for Justice.