Saturday, 22 May 2021

Speech by the Minister for Justice, Heather Humphreys TD

Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner, Chaplains,

And most importantly, family and friends of the Garda members we have lost.

I am honoured to be here with you for this ceremony.

This is one of the most important days of the year, the day when we remember and recognise the sacrifice of the 89 fallen Gardaí who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

As Minister for Justice, I am extremely proud of the work that the members of An Garda Síochána do for this country.

Each and every day, it is the women and men of An Garda Síochána who protect us and keep us safe. In times of crisis, whether as individuals or as a society, they work to shield us all from harm.

Over the last year, the selfless work and public service values of members of An Garda Síochána has been on constant display as we have battled the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gardaí all over the country have undertaken essential work to stop the spread of the virus and, most importantly, to protect the most vulnerable among us. I thank you all for this vital work which has been rightly recognised as hugely important to combatting the pandemic.

Although the work is fulfilling, sadly, many of you joining with us today know from your personal experience that being part of An Garda Síochána is also a challenging and sometimes dangerous career.

Garda members put the welfare and safety of others ahead of themselves, and take on the burden of protecting us from danger. The daily difficulties that Gardaí face cannot be overstated and it is important that we recognise both the physical and mental challenges which this brings.

The wellbeing of our Gardaí is paramount and I welcome the recent publication of the new Garda Health and Wellbeing Strategy. This strategy, which will run for the next three years, will help support the health and wellbeing among all Garda members and staff.

I think we also need to acknowledge the sacrifices made by the families of Gardaí. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to love and worry for someone whose job exposes them to danger, or to see the stress and pain that situations may bring.

I want to thank you, the families, for supporting your daughters and sons, husbands, wives, mothers and fathers as they go about their vital work on our behalf.

As we approach 2022, centenary of the formation of An Garda Síochána, the dedication that Gardaí have shown in preserving law, order and the security of our country since the foundation of the State cannot be understated.  This will be widely recognised and celebrated next year.

Our Garda members have provided an immense and valuable frontline service throughout the most challenging years in the history of the State. Their dedication and loyalty has never faltered and I would like to thank all Gardaí, who currently or have previously served, for their contribution to our our country.

But today is a day where we remember all the Gardaí  who lost their lives in the service of the State and for the people of Ireland.

The death of each and every Garda member in the line of duty has been both a huge loss to their family and friends, but also to the wider communities in which they lived and worked, and whom they protected with such dedication.

I know that many of us are thinking in particular today of Detective Garda Colm Horkan, who tragically lost his life in the service of the State in June last year.

I want to express my sincere and deepest condolences to his father Marty and all his family, friends, his community and his Garda family – his heartbroken colleagues.  I know all those who loved Colm still grieve his passing.

Colm Horkan served his country selflessly for 24 years. Throughout his time as a proud member of An Garda Síochána he remained committed to family, to community and to country.

Colm lost his life doing a job that he loved. He represented the very best of An Garda Síochána and of Ireland.

The Garda Roll of Honour shares with us the life of each of the Garda members who have lost their lives in the service of the State.

We have lost Gardaí killed while trying to prevent criminal acts:

I think of Detective Sergeant John Nicholas Eiffe who died during a foiled bank raid 20 years ago. We have lost members going about their day to day duties;

  • I think of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe who was brutally killed 25 years ago next month while escorting a post office cash delivery with his colleague Detective Garda Ben O’Sullivan.
  • And I think of Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe murdered in January 2013 at Lordship Credit Union.

I very much welcome the great work by his devoted colleagues in securing a conviction last year.  I know that the team continue in their efforts to ensure all those responsible are brought to justice.

And we have lost members who were trying to save lives:

  • I think of Garda Ciarán Jones who died 10 years ago this year, while going to the assistance of endangered motorists during severe weather conditions.

These are but a few of the names of the 89 Gardaí on the Roll of Honour, whose lives ended far too soon. Each of these men died serving the State and the people of Ireland.  And for each of those lost lives, I think especially of their families and colleagues who will forever mourn them.  That is a debt that we can never fully repay but it is one that we must always remember.

As Minister for Justice, I want to extend my gratitude to all members of An Garda Síochána who work to ensure that this country is kept safe, each and every day.

On behalf of the Government and the people of Ireland, I want to express my warmest sympathies to the families, friends and colleagues of the members who are no longer with us.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a n-anamacha uaisle.