REMEMBERING A COLLEAGUE Pictured signing the book of condolences for Detective Garda Colm Horkan at Westport Garda Station last week were, back, from left: Garda Yvonne Kilbane, Garda Pádraig O’Connor, Garda Darragh Lyons, Sgt Ciarán Diffily and Sgt Shane Fitzmaurice. Front, from left: Detective Garda John Flannery, Detective Superintendent Joe McKenna and Detective Sergeant Pat Lavelle. Pic: Michael McLaughlin
PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins led the tributes to Detective Garda Colm Horkan last week, describing the death of a garda on duty as ‘a blow to the whole country’.
People from the political and sporting backgrounds were among the many members of society to express their sympathies to the family and colleagues of Charlestown man, Detective Garda Horkan, who died from fatal wounds following an incident in Castlerea on Wednesday night.
President Higgins led a memorial ceremony on the grounds of Áras an Uachtarain when a Peace Bell was rung and a minutes silence was observed. President Higgins described the killing as an appalling blow and said his heart went out to Garda Horkan’s family, colleagues and friends.
“As President of Ireland I wish to express my deepest sympathy to the family and friends of the Garda, and to all those who have been affected by this tragedy,” President Higgins said.
“An Garda Síochána play a crucial role in our communities and this loss of life is traumatic for our society as a whole. I have contacted the Garda Commissioner to express my deepest sympathies on this terrible loss of a member of the Force.”
Flags on Government and other State buildings were lowered to half mast in tribute while across Mayo, GAA fans were asked to fly their club or county colours as a mark of respect to Horkan family.
Hundreds of people gathered outside garda stations throughout Mayo and Ireland during Detective Garda Horkan’s funeral as a mark of solidarity with his family and garda colleagues.
An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar observed a minute’s silence at Garda Headquarters in The Phoenix Park and paid tribute to Garda Horkan.
“Every day our Gardaí put themselves on the frontline of crime prevention, on behalf of all of us. This requires regular acts of bravery and courage. Sometimes the outcome is tragic and a Garda makes the ultimate sacrifice in the course of their duties. Our thoughts today are with all those grieving as a result of this tragic incident,” he said.
Speaking to the media after visiting the scene of the killing in Castlerea Garda Commissioner, Drew Harris said the community had lost a beloved member.
“Ultimately we have lost for no good purpose here today a really beloved member of this community. A garda doing their duty and doing what and people in the community would ask from him in terms of preventing crime and making sure people are safe.”
Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin said the killing reminds people of the danger every garda faces when they go on duty while Sinn Féin President, Mary Lou McDonald said it was a sad and difficult for gardaí.
Former Liverpool and Wales striker, Ian Rush was among the people who paid tribute to Detective Garda Horkan, who was a life long Liverpool fan, on behalf of the club. A picture of Detective Garda Horkan with Ian Rush appeared on social media following his death.
“When I saw the picture of us together it really was upsetting to say the least. This was a brutal crime and Colm should be remembered for the gentleman he was and how much he devoted his life to protecting and serving the public.
“I would like them to know that I have shared Colm’s story with my colleagues at Liverpool and first and foremost from myself and everyone at Liverpool Football Club we want to express our deepest sympathy with the Horkan family.”
The GAA community also led tributes to Detective Garda Horkan whose coffin was draped in the Charlestown GAA colours when his remains were brought back to his hometown. Charlestown GAA tweeted that the club was left devastated by the ‘untimely and tragic death of our friend and brother’ and ‘a very dark cloud hangs over Fr O’Hara Park and our entire community’.
Mayo GAA also paid tribute while President of the GAA, John Horan expressed condolences on behalf of the GAA.
“The strength of the GAA is based on the strength of our volunteers and the commitment they make to serve their community, and Colm Horkan had those selfless qualities in abundance.
“He is fondly remembered by his friends in Charlestown Sarsfields GAA club where he not only played, but where he continued to help and serve in a wide range of roles off the field.
“His commitment to others came naturally to him, and was an obvious asset in his role as a Garda. On behalf of the GAA, our deepest condolences to his family, his club, his community and the membership of An Garda Síochana.”