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'An attack upon society': Garda Commissioner appeals for information on shooting of Colm Horkan

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris was speaking in Castlerea today.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris speaking to the media at the scene in Castlerea.
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris speaking to the media at the scene in Castlerea.
Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire/PA Images

GARDA COMMISSIONER DREW Harris has condemned the shooting of Detective Garda Colm Horkan.

The garda died while on duty following an incident in Castlerea which happened shortly before midnight. It is believed that his official firearm was taken from him during the incident and he was shot with it. 

Speaking to reporters in Castlerea, Harris said: “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.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan, and Uachtarán na hÉireann Michael D Higgins have led tributes to Detective Garda Horkan.

Harris said Gardai are appealing for anyone with information about the incident, and for CCTV footage of the scene.

“We understand an image was shared on social media so we are appealing for that as it could be very useful and important to us in this investigation.”

Harris described Detective Garda Horkan’s death in Castlerea as “a dreadful loss”.

Asked why the incident happened, he said: “The facts as we know them at this time are that this was in effect a conversation between Detective Garda Horkan and a member of the public.

“There was then an altercation during which the service pistol Garda Horkan was carrying was then used against him and he was shot and fatally wounded.”

“He received very prompt medical attention but to no avail. He died from his injuries.”

Harris said it is difficult say whether Detective Garda Horkan knew the person alleged to have shot him.

“Detective Horkan would have spent so much time here and he knew so many people. It would be hard to say who he did not know in the town and the surrounding area.”

Harris said Detective Garda Horkan’s colleagues and the wider Garda community are “extremely saddened and shocked” by his killing.

“We have rallied around as an organisation, there has been a huge level of community support and also organisational support. That is evident in the number of personnel who have turned up here today to help with the investigation.”

“It is poignant and tragic that we have had the death of a serving detective garda who was on duty and doing his duties to keep people safe in this local area.”

Mr Harris said it is a “tragic coincidence” that two gardai had also been killed in the line of duty in the same area 40 years ago.

Harris also described Detective Garda Horkan’s death as “an attack upon society”.

“I can certainly say at this moment in time that there is no chance at all of a bigger picture in terms of organised crime or a subversive. What we have here is a random act and a violent act which has led to the death of Detective Garda Horkan.”

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“It is tragic and it is an attack upon us all. Policing is an extension of good citizenship and we should acknowledge that this demeans and belittles us all. It grieves us all as a society that this has happened. It is not how we view ourselves and it is not how we wish to be seen. You are correct to say it is an attack upon society,” Harris said. 

He said he hopes to meet Detective Garda Horkan’s family in person this afternoon.

“Obviously I want to convey my own sense of deep sadness to them. We will all be there for them in the days, weeks and months ahead to support them with the terrible burden that they have to bare.”

Gardaí are investigating the fatal shooting, and are appealing for those with information, or who witnessed this incident, to contact Castlerea Garda Station at 094 962 1635.

With reporting from Gráinne Ní Aodha

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