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Sergeant Edward Griffin with four of his sisters after receiving a Silver Scott Medal PA

‘A miracle’ no-one was killed in 2020 Donegal shooting spree, sergeant says

Sergeant Edward Griffin was among 11 recipients of a Scott Medal for bravery at a ceremony held in Dublin.

A SERGEANT WHO was awarded a bravery medal for his actions in responding to a man who went on a “shooting spree” in a Co Donegal town said it was a “miracle” that no-one was killed.

On the night of 22 February 2020, a man fired indiscriminately at homes, cars and Gardaí in Glenties.

Sergeant Edward Griffin heard three shots fired in rapid succession that night, and so he and Garda Louis Browne drove into the town’s main street and saw a man carrying a high-powered rifle.

They turned on their patrol vehicle’s blue lights in order to divert members of the public away from the area.

The patrol vehicle was stopped and he alerted two of his armed colleagues, Detective Garda Darren Carter and Detective Garda Enda Jennings, who arrived on the scene.

The man fired shots at the Gardaí and hit their patrol car, before the armed Gardaí shouted instructions and the man eventually dropped to his knees. He was arrested, convicted, and is now serving a custodial sentence.


“It wasn’t just luck, it was a miracle nobody was killed,” Sergeant Griffin told reporters at a ceremony in Dublin.

“There could have been people in the town killed that night, anybody could have been killed. That’s how bad it was.

“Of course you’re afraid, but being a member of An Garda Síochána, you’re committed to do your duty and that’s what you’re there for: to protect the people.

“You don’t have to overcome that fear, you just have to put it to one side until you get the job done.

“It was absolutely terrifying for the community. Glenties is very quiet town, a very peaceful town, a very law-abiding town, and the community were extremely grateful that this man was apprehended.

“You don’t go to work expecting to go through an experience like that and for our members it would have a long-term impact on them,” he said, and agreed that it as a worst-case scenario.

The four Garda members who responded to the incident were among 11 recipients of the Scott Medal, the highest award the Garda Commissioner can bestow.

embedded272362892 PA PA

‘Deep appreciation’

At a ceremony held in Dublin today, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said that it was a day to express “deep appreciation” for the dangers Garda members face in the course of their duty.

He said that those being awarded medals “did not act in search of praise or awards”, but did so instinctively.

“It can be a misconception that those who are brave feel no fear in the midst of a life-threatening situation, that they are fearless or without panic. In fact, real bravery is feeling fear, but choosing to resist it,” he said.

Justice Minister Simon Harris thanked the medal recipients and their families on behalf of the Irish public.

Sam Donegan

A gold bravery medal was awarded posthumously to Inspector Sam Donegan, who was killed in June 1972 after responding to suspect devices along the Cavan-Fermanagh border.

He had assessed one device as a hoax before the second detonated as he examined it.

His son John Donegan collected the award on behalf of his father, and said it was an emotional day.

embedded272362889 John Donegan, son of the late Inspector Sam Donegan PA PA

“It’s a good day for us. It’s a sad day. I think of him and I think of my mother who survived him by 34 years, and was without him for that length of time and never stopped talking about him.”

He said his father’s death “had a huge impact on us as a family” for all their lives.

“I suppose sorrow entered into our lives that day, and we still have that.

“Very emotional, sad, and sorrowful of course, but still happy to get this award, happy to get this recognition,” he said.

Harris said that the late Inspector Donegan’s “exceptional courage” had protected the community and colleagues in Cavan “from an immediate and certain danger”.

“On behalf of the government and on behalf of the people of Ireland, I want to express our gratitude and offer our deepest sympathies to his family, to his friends, to his colleagues,” he said.

A bronze medal was posthumously awarded to Sergeant Daniel Kelleher, who was shot during Gardaí’s response to the abduction of businessman Don Tidey in December 1983.

Tidey was present at the ceremony in support of Sergeant Kelleher’s family, who were there to accept the award.

embedded272362650 Don Tidey (right) with Caroline Kelleher (centre) wife of the late Sergeant Daniel Kelleher, his daughter Lesley Kelleher and son Daniel Kelleher (Brian Lawless/PA)

Harris welcomed the presence of his family and recognised Sergeant Kelleher’s “exceptional bravery” that day, which was met with applause from attendees.

Tidey was in his 23rd day of captivity when Garda members and army personnel carried out a search of Drumcroman Wood in Co Leitrim and an IRA hideout was discovered.

Detective Garda Kelleher provided armed cover to Gardaí who were escorting Tidey to safety when he was shot and injured in both legs.

Silver bravery medals were also awarded to three Gardaí who apprehended an armed man in a bathroom in Ballymun, Dublin, in March 2019.

When Sergeant Andrew O’Connor, Detective Garda Niall Minnock and Garda Conor Garland arrived at the scene in Poppintree, Ballymun, they saw a man holding what appeared to be a black sub machine gun, before he ran into a house and into the bathroom.

The Gardaí followed him to the house, and the man fired shots from the bathroom before he was apprehended and the firearm was safely recovered.

Gardaí then saw a black grenade on the floor of the bathroom; an Irish Defence Forces Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit examined it before carrying out a controlled explosion.

The man has been charged and convicted.

Bronze bravery medals were also awarded to Sergeant PJ Gallagher and Garda Thomas McGuiness for their bravery during their abduction in October 1983.

They were on patrol in Aughamore Far, Co Sligo, when they came across a number of vehicles parked in a rural layby late at night, which was unusual.

The two Gardaí were approached by armed men and bundled into two vehicles before being moved to a second hijacked car and driven to Kilnaleck, Co Cavan where the car was abandoned.

They then released themselves from the boot of the car and raised the alarm.

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