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Crowds of people gather at the Garda Síochána National Centenary Commemorative Event in Dublin Castle. Sam Boal/

Gardaí take part in parade to mark 100th anniversary of policing handover

The Civic Guard, formed by Michael Collins and the Irish Government in 1922, was later renamed An Garda Síochána.

ABOUT 450 GARDAI have taken part in a parade marking 100 years since the first Garda commissioner led Ireland’s new police service into Dublin Castle for the handover of policing duties from the British.

The gardaí retraced the steps of Michael Staines and his force, which marched from the Gresham Hotel in O’Connell Street to Dublin Castle via Dame Street a century ago.

They also replicated a photograph of Staines and the force as they arrived through the Palace Gate.

The parade included members of the Garda band, the ceremonial unit, officers corps and other units.

A ceremony followed at Dublin Castle, which was attended by Minister for Justice Helen McEntee and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris.

Speaking at the ceremony, Harris said the force is today considered “a highly trusted police service that is world renowned for its close connection to communities”.

“This did not happen by accident or good fortune. It was achieved by generations of Gardaí adhering to the ethos outlined by the Commissioner who led the Gardaí through the gates of Dublin Castle 100 years ago,” he said.

Harris also said that there have been times throughout the decades where Gardaí “did not meet our own high standards or the standards expected of us – when we could have and should have done better for the Irish people”.

garda 047_90659477 Members of An Garda Síochána marching into Dublin Castle re-enacting a famous photograph to mark their Centenary. Sam Boal / Sam Boal / /

He added that the force must ensure that these mistakes are not repeated and learn the lessons of the past.

“We are striving to be even more open and transparent,” he said.

“To be constantly aware of those who may be vulnerable in our society, and do all we can to guarantee the protection of the human rights of every individual we interact with, and to ensure that our organisation is reflective of the diverse society we serve so proudly.”

The commissioner concluded by paying tribute to the 89 gardaí who have died on duty.

“They are the epitome of An Garda Síochána. Dedicated Guardians of the Peace. They make us extraordinarily proud of the privilege it is to wear this uniform and represent this great organisation.”

drew harris 93 Garda Commissioner Drew Harris speaking at the Centenary event at Dublin Castle. Sam Boal / Sam Boal / /

Minister McEntee said the march into Dublin Castle, which was “movingly re-created by serving members this morning”, was a “hugely symbolic statement of the ability of the newly formed Irish Free State to govern ourselves”.

“Of course we can’t forget that this occurred during a time of great danger in Ireland, amidst the beginnings of the Civil War, with Michael Collins himself killed only five days later during the attack at Béal na mBláth,” she said.

Yet, amongst the chaos of those times, the establishment of our national police service – an unarmed service – helped to pave the way for stability and confidence in the new independent Ireland.

“It was one of the key foundation stones of the Irish Free State and is without doubt one of its greatest successes.”

The Civic Guard was formed by Michael Collins and the Irish Government in 1922, and was later renamed An Garda Síochána.

Additional reporting from Jane Moore

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