Minister pays tribute to Colm Horkan as frontline workers honoured

Church bells ring out, Air Corp fly over Dublin as National Services’ Day is marked


Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has paid tribute to Detective Garda Colm Horkan who was shot dead in Castlerea, Co Roscommon in June as she laid a wreath in memory of service members who have died during the pandemic.

A small ceremony was held at Collins Barracks in Dublin as part of a dramatically curtailed National Services Day with the Minister using the opportunity to hail the murdered garda’s “selfless commitment to community and country”.

She said it was her “deep privilege to work closely with some of our frontline emergency services” adding that she had “seen at first hand their tremendous professionalism and dedication, in what can be very challenging circumstances. ”

She said the demands placed on emergency workers “have perhaps never been greater than this year, as we live through the Covid-19 pandemic”.

The last six months have been “a frightening and uncertain time for all of us”, the Minister said, but “our emergency workers – despite any private fears they may have had for themselves or their loved ones – have continued to fully perform their duties and have indeed increased their efforts to support the public. We owe them, and their families, a deep debt of gratitude for their outstanding professionalism, dedication and care.”

“On this day, I think particularly of Detective Garda Colm Horkan, who tragically lost his life in the service of the State this year. In his selfless commitment to community and country, Detective Horkan represented the very best of An Garda Síochána and indeed of all our frontline services. We remember and honour him today.”

Fly over

She concluded by saying that although the pandemic had “prevented us holding a parade in their honour this year, I join with the Frontline Emergency and Security Services Éire Forum in asking members of the public to take some time today to remember and pay a warm tribute to the women and men of our frontline and emergency services.”

At exactly seven minutes past 3pm three Air Corp helicopters flew in a neat triangular formation over the roof of the Mater Hospital on Dublin’s northside.

As the blades above burred a solitary ambulance driving slowly down Eccles Street sounded its siren in short bursts.

As well as the fly-over and the sirens, church bells rang out, car horns blared and people clapped in recognition of the work done generally by frontline workers over the last year and – more particularly – the work they have done since the start of the Pandemic last spring.

Scaled back

The event – which has been held on the first Saturday in September since its inception in 2018 – is normally marked by a parade and other activities in honour of full-time, part-time and voluntary workers including fire fighters, ambulance crews, the Defence Forces, the Coast Guard, Lifeboat services and the Civil Defence.

But this year is like no other and the commemoration was scaled back as a result of public health restrictions.

“We had to change how we celebrated the National Services Day [but]this year more than others we knew we had to do something,” the organisers said in a social media post.