Attacks on gardaí ‘destroy our society’, McEntee tells ceremony for those who died in service

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris says the sacrifice of gardaí who died in service ‘has not been in vain’

Attacks on members of the Garda represent “an attack on our whole community, and an attempt to undermine and destroy our society”, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has said at a ceremony to remember gardaí who have been killed in the line of duty.

A ceremony took place in Dublin on Saturday to commemorate members of An Garda Síochána who have died in the line of duty. A total of 89 officers have lost their lives while in working in the service of the State since the force was formed.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris were among those who addressed the annual ceremony, held in the Dubh Linn Gardens at Dublin Castle on Saturday.

“Our country has seen many changes, and new challenges have emerged,” Ms McEntee said. “We have seen acts of violence and intimidation, carried out by a tiny, criminal minority.


“Violence and intimidation targeted first and foremost at some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

“We have seen many hundreds of protests, the vast majority peaceful, and a small number where a violent element tried again to undermine our society.

“Throughout every one of these events, Garda members respected the democratic right of all people to protest and make their voices heard, while upholding the law and responding appropriately to the shameful acts of violence.”

Ms McEntee said everyone who values freedom and democratic rights “condemn, utterly and completely, any abhorrent attacks on gardaí”.

“Any such attack represents an attack on our whole community, and an attempt to undermine and destroy our society,” she added. “It is an attack on our very democracy, and our fundamental rights.

“Freedom and rule of law are not separate, they are bound together.”

Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Chief Constable Jon Boutcher was also in attendance at the ceremony, which began with the playing of the ministerial salute by the Garda band before Ms McEntee inspected the guard of honour. Following prayers, there was a wreath-laying ceremony.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said the sacrifice of gardaí who lost their lives had not been in vain.

“Eighty-nine of our gardaí made the ultimate sacrifice and for many who gather here today, you too paid that ultimate price,” Mr Harris said.

“The death of any loved one cuts deep and leaves a wound that will never fully be healed.

“The fact that these 89 gave their lives in the service of the State makes this all the more difficult.

“But their sacrifice has not been in vain. They, through their actions and their work, kept people, communities and our country safe.

“On memorial day, we in An Garda Síochána, and the citizens of Ireland, get to pay tribute to these 89 honourable men.

“On this day, we are here for their families and those who grieve.

“We are your shoulder to lean on because your loss is also our loss.” – Additional reporting: PA

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter