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'A peacemaker and a rock of sense': TDs pay Dáil tribute and hold minute's silence for Garda Colm Horkan

“He never let us down, the people he had sworn to serve,” the Taoiseach told the Dáil today.

TDs standing for a minute's silence this morning.
TDs standing for a minute's silence this morning.
Image: Oireachtas TV

TEACHTAÍ DÁLA FROM all sides of the chamber have paid tribute to Detective Garda Colm Horkan, after a minute’s silence was held for the Mayo man at Leinster House this morning.

Garda Horkan was shot dead in the early hours of last Thursday morning, and his killing led to an outpouring of grief and tributes to the 49-year-old. 

Over 1,000 people lined the streets for his funeral mass on Sunday and today – the first time the Dáil has sat since the event – TDs paid tribute to the well-respected and well-liked GAA fanatic and Liverpool FC fan. 

The morning began with a minute’s silence before 11 TDs from all the parties and then some independents expressed their own sympathies and paid tribute to Garda Horkan.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: “The remarkable outpouring of grief we saw over the weekend says a lot about our values as a country and the respect we have for the men and women who uphold our laws. Whenever we lose a member of An Garda Sióchána in the line of duty it wounds us all and we grieve as a nation.  

At the funeral, Colm’s brother Brendan remembered his achievements on the sporting pitch and said, ‘He never let the jersey down.’
The exact same thing could be said of his career as a Garda. He never let the uniform down. He never let us down, the people he had sworn to serve.

Varadkar closed his remarks by extending condolences to Garda Horkan’s family, friends, his community and An Garda Síochána. 

Other party leaders opened their remarks today by paying tribute. 

Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald wished “heartfelt condolences” to the family and friends of Garda Horkan, as well as to the wider community and An Garda Síochána.

“An honourable and brave man has been lost,” she said. 

Fianna Fáil’s Micheál Martin said: “In the days since his murder, people throughout our country have taken the time to show their respect for him and for the forces of law and order which protect us.  All who knew Detective Garda Horkan have spoken of a good and decent man, a man rooted in his community and a man rooted in the joy of sport.

He was deeply proud to serve in the uniform of this free republic.  His terrible murder has reminded us all once again of the dangers faced by members of An Garda Síochána as they go about their duties.  It challenges us all never to take them for granted.

Senior figures from other parties also paid tribute. 

detective-garda-colm-horkan The 49 year old was killed last week.

Meanwhile, at a meeting of the Policing Authority attended by Commissioner Drew Harris, a moment of silence was observed for Garda Horkan. 

“Commissioner, it’s right that we should begin this meeting with a renewal of expression of shock, dismay and horror that the authority expressed last week on hearing of the death of Garda Horkan,” Bob Collins, chairperson of the authority said. 

“In the midst of exemplary service by An Garda Síochána during the health emergency, the organisation finds itself morning the death of a colleague. A extraordinary, well-regarded colleague. 

“Not only was his killing a wilful denial of the right to life but it was an assault on our democracy and on one of the key institutional elements of that democracy.”

Harris replied: “Colm Horkan was an exemplar of all that we would expect from An Garda Síochána organisation. Our thoughts still remain very much with his family and with his close colleagues in Castlerea.”

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Earlier, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said colleagues had described him as a “man of the highest integrity, a peacemaker and a rock of sense and discretion”. 

He also singled out the role that gardaí play in supporting and protecting communities.

“It is to them that we turn in times of crisis, including during the current pandemic,” Flanagan said. “Each of the 89 men on the Garda Roll of Honour died in the service of the State and for the people of Ireland. That is a debt that we can never fully repay but it is one that we will always remember.”

That theme was continued by others, including Fianna Fáil’s Jim O’Callaghan and Sinn Féin’s Martin Kenny.

Kenny said: “His murder is a sorrowful reminder of the stark reality that members of An Garda Síochána go out to work every day knowing they will often meet danger and harm.

Those who face these risks to protect the lives of others in the community do so in a very brave way. We should be very grateful to those, like Detective Garda Horkan, who do their jobs and do them well.

Comments are closed because an individual related to this case has been charged. 

With reporting from Conor McCrave

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Sean Murray

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