State funeral of murdered garda held in Co Louth


The priest concelebrating the funeral Mass of murdered detective Adrian Donohoe has called for fresh thinking on policing resources so that people in rural communities do not sleep in their beds with fear and evil does not triumph over virtue.

In other remarks from the altar of St Joseph’s Redemptorist Church in Dundalk and addressed to those shielding or withholding information about the killers, Fr Michael Cusack said they had it in their power to give closure to the dead man’s widow Caroline, son Niall (6) and daughter Amy (7).

“If you have a semblance of goodness in you, for God’s sake turn these people in. If not, you are allowing Satan rule the lives of more people.”

Fr Cusack told some 4,000 mourners, 2,500 of them uniformed gardaí who stood for several hours in the street outside, that Det Garda Donohoe was a loving family man who gave himself to his wife and two young children, his job, the GAA and the community he lived in.

He said as a Redemptorist priest, he had always found himself unable to preach about fire and brimstone. “People say to me, 'Is there such a thing at all as fire and brimstone? Is there a battle between good and evil?' But it is perfectly clear evil does exist (in) the callous mowing down of an innocent human being.”

He added evil could “take hold of any heart, creeping in, slow acceptance, gentle movement until there is contamination all around”.

That evil had permeated all walks of life including politics, business, the Church and the media and was present in the murder of Det Garda Donohoe near his home in Lordship, Bellurgan, Co Louth, last Friday night.

Such evil was “clearly personified, almost satanic” in the dealing of drugs, yet when people were jailed they were still able to continue running their drugs businesses from behind bars. “It’s like Satan laughing at us,” he told those gathered, who included Minister for Justice Alan Shatter and Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.

From a family of three generations of gardaí, Fr Cusack said when he went back to his native community in Galway, the one garda that had been based there for years had gone. Since his departure, two men in their 80s had had their “heads bashed in” at their homes, one of them left without hearing or a sense of smell as a result.

When he looked at the people in the area, he could see fear in the eyes of the elderly.

He added those who shielded the gang members who killed Det Garda Donohoe – during a botched armed robber at Lordship Credit Union last week – prolonged his family’s pain and denied them closure.

Also among the family party leading the mourners were Det Garda Donohoe’s parents Peggy and Hugh, parents-in-law Bridie and Stephen, sisters Mary and Anne, brothers Colm, Martin and Alan, brothers-in-law Derek, Kieran and John, sister-in-law Angela and a number of nephews and nieces. President Michael D Higgins was also present.

A number of Cabinet members attended the service, including Taoiseach Enda Kenny. PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott was also in attendance. Large numbers of officials from the Garda Representative Association, Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors and the Department of Justice as well as Defence Forces Chief of Staff Lieut Gen Sean McCann and senior Army officers all attended to pay their respects.

Mr Callinan addressed mourners, saying the murdered man was a not only a garda but a community leader and loving husband and father who would never be forgotten. “Adrian, Detective Garda Donohoe, husband, father, son, brother, colleague, community leader, GAA man, friend, we will never ever forget you” he told the congregation. The force would do all it could to bring the killers to justice.

His brother Colm Donohoe said the family was devastated by “senseless and tragic loss” and all the occasions his brother would miss with his children growing up. They took some comfort that he lived life to the fullest “always with a smile on his face”, he said.

President Higgins and his wife Sabina expressed condolences with the family "in the name of all citizens of the State", Fr Cusack said.

Among the gifts offered during the Mass in memory of the detective were a football and a jersey, his Garda cap and badge, a family photograph and a model of a Massey Ferguson tractor which mourners were told he had always wanted.

The funeral Mass began just after 1pm and finished shortly after 2.30pm, with burial afterwards at Lordship Cemetery.

Members of the St Patrick’s GAA club, where Det Garda Donohoe had been active since settling in the area after moving from his native Co Cavan to begin his Garda career, also played a key role in today’s ceremonies.

Det Garda Donohoe had been a member of the force for two decades and had spent most of his career in Dundalk station, where he was a popular colleague and regarded as a very proactive member of the force in tackling local crime.

His widow Caroline is also a member of the Garda based in Dundalk, while her twin brother is a garda in Limerick. The dead man’s two brothers are also members of the force, based in Navan, Co Meath and Swords, Co Dublin.

Det Garda Donohoe was shot dead during an armed robbery at Lordship Credit Union at 9.30pm last Friday. He was due to provide an escort into Dundalk for a consignment of cash with his colleague Det Garda Joe Ryan.

However, when they arrived at the car park, five raiders were waiting. One of the raiders drove the gang’s car across the entrance of the credit union car park to block in the detectives’ car.

When Det Garda Donohoe was stepping out of his vehicle to investigate, one of the gang members opened fire with a shotgun, fatally wounding him in the head.

The investigation into the murder is continuing, with gardaí of the view that those behind the attack live in both the local north Louth area and just across the Border in south Armagh.

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