Gardaí issue appeal over car used in fatal raid in Co Louth


Gardaí have issued a public appeal for information about a car that was used during the robbery in Co Louth last week during which Det Gda Adrian Donohoe was murdered.

Det Garda Donohoe (41), a father of a daughter and son aged six and seven, was killed when he was shot at close range in the car park of the Lordship Credit Union, Bellurgan, Jenkinstown, on the Cooley peninsula at 9.30pm on Friday.

Garda and PSNI sources said the burned-out getaway vehicle used by the gang that carried out the murder could offer vital information. The VW Passat was recovered on Sunday from the Fews forest beside the Cumsons Road between Newtownhamilton and Keady in south Armagh.

Gardaí said today it has been established that this car was stolen during the course of a burglary at Clogherhead, Co.Louth between 11.30pm and 4.30am on January 22nd and 23rd.

“On the night this car was stolen there was a large funeral in Clogherhead and this may jog some local people’s memories of the night,” a Garda spokesman said.

Family, friends and colleagues of Det Donohoe paid their respects to the murdered garda in a wake at his home in Co Louth today. A long line of people arrived to give their condolences to his widow Caroline and the couple’s children Amy and Niall before the front door of their detached home opened at noon.

PJ Stone, general secretary of the Garda Representative Association, former Garda commissioner Noel Conroy, senior detectives, and local firefighters were among the first to visit the family in Lordship, near Dundalk, Co Louth.

A green and white chequered flag, the colours of Det Garda Donohoe’s St Patrick’s Gaelic Football Club, flew at half mast in the estate, in the foothills of the Cooley Mountains.

Fr Tommy McNulty, from nearby Cooley Parish, said the local community had been marvellous, giving Ms Donohoe and her family great comfort. “It’s terrible. Very sad,” he said as he visited the family. “People just don’t know what to say, there’s a cloud over the whole community. People are just very down. People just don’t know what to say to one another. It was so sudden and so much sadness for his wife and their children and the family.”

Det Garda Donohoe’s wife Caroline is a garda working at Dundalk Garda station. He was shot in the head on Friday night by a gang as they stole €4,000 from the Lordship Credit Union.

At the scene of the shooting, floral tributes have been left by Det Donohoe’s family. His wife and children left a bouquet of lilies and roses with a simple message: “Adrian, beloved husband and Dad. Dearly loved by Caroline, Amy, Niall.”

His parents, Peggy and Hugh Donohoe, also left flowers with a note: “Our darling Adrian, you will never be forgotten. Love Mammy and Daddy.”

Roads near the crime scene at Bellurgan, Jenkinstown, which is about 3km from the detective’s home, reopened today as investigations continue.

Final preparations are under way for Det Donohoe's state funeral tomorrow, which President Michael D Higgins, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Justice Minister Alan Shatter are expected to attend.

After the wake at the family home, the detective’s body will be taken to St Joseph’s Redemptorist Church in Dundalk for a funeral at 12.30pm tomorrow. As his remains are taken to Lordship Cemetery for burial, he will pass Dundalk Garda station and be given a guard of honour by fellow members of St Patrick’s who will also carry his coffin the kilometre from the club to the graveyard.

Books of condolence remain open around the country, including at Dundalk Garda station, St Patrick’s, the Mansion House in Dublin and in Limerick.

Senior gardaí are understood to be closing in on the armed gang, whose getaway car was found burnt out across the border in south Armagh. Gardaí will make a televised appeal tonight for information which may help the investigation. The appeal will take place on the RTÉ Crimecall programme.

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter yesterday said he has “absolute confidence” those behind the shooting dead of Det Garda Donohoe will be caught and put on trial, but insisted the killing was not linked to reduced Garda resources.

Surveillance has been placed on a number of suspects in an effort to establish if people have gone into hiding or have deviated from their usual routine since the fatal gun attack, the first on a Garda member since Det Garda Jerry McCabe was shot dead by an IRA gang in Adare, Co Limerick, in 1996.

In the Dail today, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams apologised

to the family of Det McCabe and other gardaí who were killed or injured by republicans during the Troubles.

Mr Shatter yesterday visited Dundalk Garda station and spoke to Garda Donohoe’s colleagues, including Det Garda Joe Ryan, who was with his partner when he was shot dead during the botched robbery at Lordship Credit Union at Bellurgan on the Cooley Peninsula at 9.30pm last Friday.

Mr Shatter said the murder inquiry was now taking on a “particular focus”.

The GRA, which represents rank-and-file members of the force, has said its members had long felt recent cuts to Garda resources had undermined them and compromised them.

Mr Stone said yesterday that while it would be inappropriate at this time to discuss the specifics of recent cutbacks, the general matter of Garda resourcing was an issue. “I have listened to the Minister and the [Garda] commissioner reassuring the public, but who is reassuring the gardaí that we have the resources and the support? Because there is a great sense of isolation – and I won’t say fear – but there is trepidation.”

Mr Shatter said the killing was not linked to resources. “Let’s not get deflected. Garda Donohoe lost his life because bad people intent on murder and mayhem and robbery conducted themselves in the manner we know. There’s no issue today of relevance to resources or Garda stations.”

The investigation into the killing is focusing on local criminals who are based in the north Louth and south Armagh area. A similar robbery had been carried out in the town 18 months ago when a gang escaped with just over €60,000 before the Garda escort arrived. The same gang are among the suspects for Friday’s attack.

Additional reporting PA

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