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13 gardaí honoured for 'acts of heroism and courage'

13 gardaí today received the highest decoration for bravery awarded by the police force.

Members of An Garda Siochana attend a ceremony at Dublin Castle.
Members of An Garda Siochana attend a ceremony at Dublin Castle.
Image: Brian Lawless/PA

THE FAMILY OF a garda who was killed in 1940 have said that a bravery award in his honour more than 80 years later is “bittersweet”.

Patrick McKeown, who was killed in August 1940, was among those members of the police force who were posthumously awarded the Gold Scott Medal in a ceremony today.

Tributes were paid to the “selfless courage” of gardaí, as 13 gardaí received a gold, silver or bronze Scott Medal – the highest decoration for bravery in the force.

Thirteen gardaí – some living, others honoured posthumously – were awarded the Scott Medal at an outdoors ceremony in Dublin Castle.

“By its very nature, the work of An Garda Siochana is dangerous and unpredictable,” Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said.

Speaking to a small, socially distanced audience he said: “Among this year’s recipients are those that saved the lives of their fellow gardaí.

“Others who put their lives in jeopardy to protect the public in a time of crisis.”

Detective Sergeant Patrick McKeown, Detective Garda Michael Brady and Detective Garda Richard Hyland all received the Gold Scott Medal posthumously – awarded for exceptional acts of heroism and courage involving risk to life in the execution of duty.

embedded261962118 Frank Brady, son of the late Detective Garda Michael Brady. Source: Brian Lawless/PA

In August 1940, all three were involved in a search of an IRA training headquarters in Dublin.

After receiving a gunshot wound during the search, Detective Sergeant McKeown managed to escape and warn a fellow officer of the danger – saving his life in the process. He died the following day.

Detective Garda Hyland was killed in the same operation, fatally wounded by seven gunshot wounds. Despite his injuries, Garda Hyland managed to fire a single shot to defend himself and his colleagues.

Detective Garda Brady was also shot during the search, but despite his injuries was able to crawl from the premises and was found by colleagues face down outside holding his revolver in his right hand with his finger on the trigger.

He later gave evidence against the gunmen from his hospital bed.

Harris said that the medals paid tribute to acts of bravery that were not properly recognised before.

“What we’re doing in effect is making sure that where there’s been acts of bravery they’re recognised by the organisation and by myself,” he said.

Minister for Justice Heather Humphries also attended the ceremony, which took place close to the An Garda Siochana Memorial Garden.

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embedded261962116 Marie Hyland, daughter of the late Detective Garda Richard Hyland. Source: Brian Lawless/PA

She said: “In times of crisis, gardaí work shields us all from harm.

“The dedication that gardaí have shown to preserving law, order and security of our state cannot be understated,” she told the assembled crowd.

The Scott Medal has been awarded since 1923, with more than 400 medals awarded since then.

There were prayers today for the members of the Irish Army Rangers in Afghanistan, currently in the country to evacuate Irish citizens.

Orla McKeown, the grand-niece of Detective Sergeant McKeown, said the day had been an “emotional” and “bittersweet” experience.

“It’s nice to think that extreme bravery is recognised and rewarded and I just feel very sad for those who loved him and lost him so soon. He was only 36. But he’s an example of what the gardai are prepared to do every day as they go out and do their duty,” she told PA news agency.

Marie Hyland, the daughter of Detective Garda Hyland, told PA news agency: “I think it’s terrific, we waited a long time.

“My father is dead 81 years so for those of us who are left, it’s very important.”

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