'We owe him a great debt - he was there in our names'
The garda bowed her head and removed her cap as she mounted the steps of the Mansion House in Dublin yesterday to sign a book of condolence for a fallen colleague.
She was one of many members of the force who had come to pay their respects for Det Garda Adrian Donohoe who was shot dead in the line of duty on Friday.
Some Garda members came in full uniform, some in plain clothes; one in a helmet worn by the members of the Garda Mountain Bicycle Patrol; another wearing his stab-proof vest, now an everyday part of the Garda uniform, but which yesterday served as a further reminder of the dangers its members can face.
Under a portrait of Daniel O’Connell they signed the book, which was laid out on a low table alongside a photo of a smiling Det Garda Donohoe, a Garda cap, a vase of white lilies and a single candle.
“I pay respect to our colleague who died while protecting our society,” one Garda member wrote, a tribute reflected in the messages of others: “Thanks for your service and bravery,” read one. “Duty to the end,” another said.
The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Naoise Ó Muirí, the first to sign the book, wrote he was “so saddened” by the loss of the garda who had died “serving community and country”. The second signatory, Assistant Garda Commissioner John Twomey, said “our thoughts and prayers” were with the garda and his family.
Outside, in the cold and windy afternoon, members of the public gave their reasons for coming. Many used the same vocabulary – “appalled”, “saddened”, “shocked” – their words summing up the feelings of a nation.
Among them was UCD student Hugh McGowan from Limerick, members of whose own family are gardaí and whose father retired from the force having been injured in the line of duty. “I feel it’s very important that we come together and commemorate Det Garda Donohoe’s sacrifice,” he said.
“I can’t imagine what the community in Louth are going through at the moment. From all I’ve heard he was an outstanding member of that community . . . I don’t know how you can numb that shock”.
Others spoke of the callousness with which Det Garda Donohoe’s life was taken. “His family’s lives are ruined and it seems to be a symptom of a lack of respect for human life, regardless of the reason behind it,” Michael Duffy from Walkinstown said. Ann Murphy from Rush said: “I think it’s a catastrophe, what’s after happening. No consideration for life.”
George Ryan said there was great anger among ordinary citizens over the death.
“He was doing his job, trying to defend his area, look after his neighbourhood. To get shot in the line of duty, it’s very sad.”
Others spoke of a heightened respect for gardaí, whom Denis Barror described as “guardians of the peace”.
“It makes me realise what a good service the guards provide and under such circumstances because guns seem to be a part of the day now,” he said.
“We owe him a great debt, he was there in all our names,” another man, who did not wish to be named, said.