Garda murder 'an attack on the State'28/01/2013 - 16:51:36
The murder of a detective during a credit union hold-up has today been branded an attack on the State by Justice Minister Alan Shatter.
Minister Shatter spent more than an hour at Dundalk Garda Station in Co Louth where murdered officer Adrian Donohoe had been stationed.
He was shot in the head on Friday night by a gang as they stole €4,000 at a rural credit union.
“I see what occurred effectively as an attack not just on an individual garda (police officer) but on all members of the force, essentially an attack on the state and this will not be tolerated,” the minister said.
Mr Shatter was briefed by local detectives in Dundalk and met Garda Joe Ryan, who was held at gunpoint after seeing his colleague murdered in cold blood.
“I had the opportunity to meet Joe Ryan who was the other Garda Detective involved in this event and I expressed my good wishes to him,” the Minister said.
“I think we have to admire his courage. He’s obviously still upset. I think everyone in the station is understandably upset but I think they’re very focused at bringing to justice those who are responsible for the barbaric and callous murder that took place last Friday evening.”
Mr Shatter said there was a mood of determination among gardaí in the ongoing manhunt.
“I think people are very determined that the individuals that are responsible for this horrendous murder are brought to justice. I think people are stressed but very determined and working very hard,” he said.
Detective Donohoe was a 41-year-old father of two, whose wife Caroline was also a member of An Garda Siochana and also worked out of Dundalk.
Earlier, Mr Shatter said the gang must have known gardaí would have been escorting takings from the Lordship Credit Union in rural Co Louth on Friday night.
Police suspect the same cross-border criminal gang which stole €62,000 from the credit union more than a year ago may have been behind Mr Donohoe’s murder.
A burnt-out car found near a forest in the Darkley area of south Armagh near the town of Keady was being forensically examined by police in the North.
Mr Shatter insisted authorities north of the border were providing all the support necessary for the investigation.
Mr Shatter said the gang were either “criminal terrorists flying the Tricolour for convenience” or “organised or disorganised criminals... with no respect for life”.
A steady stream of people left flowers and signed a book of condolences at the Dundalk Garda station, including members of the Defence Forces locally based 27th Infantry.
A senior garda noted the feeling of shock and revulsion still affecting duties in the area.
“I’ve never been anywhere so sombre in all my life,” he said.
Mr Shatter signed the book of condolences in the garda station and left a floral wreath with a hand written card.
It read: “Sincere condolences on the loss of a courageous and young life cut tragically short. Alan Shatter.”
Lord Mayor of Dublin Naoise Ó Muirí has also opened a book of condolences open at The Mansion House today.
Mr Shatter said investigations were going on to establish a link between the car, a Volkswagen Passat, and the robbery.
“The likelihood is that it was the car that was engaged in the robbery,” he said.
“There’s still work to be done in that context. I obviously don’t want to say too much on some of the detail of the investigation that’s taking place. A very intense investigation is taking place and the Police Service of Northern Ireland and An Garda Síochána are working hand in hand, exchanging information and working together to ensure justice is done.”
An Garda Síochána issued a statement to thank the public for the outpouring of support.
“An Garda Síochána would like to acknowledge the huge amount of public support we have received since the tragic event,” a spokesman said.
“This support means a great deal to the family, friends and colleagues of Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe and is a source of great comfort at this difficult time.”
The force renewed its appeal for anyone who saw anything suspicious in the area of the killing on Friday night, or a dark-coloured car driven erratically on the Republic’s M1 motorway close to the border to get in contact.
Garda Donohoe’s family will hold a wake at their home in the Lordship area tomorrow ahead of a removal to Joseph’s Redemptorist Church for a funeral on Wednesday.
Originally from Co Cavan, Detective Garda Donohoe came from a proud policing family. As well as his wife, two of his brothers Alan and Martin serve in the force.
He was also a well-known and respected member of St Patrick’s Gaelic Athletics Club in Lordship, where he helped coach seven-year-old footballers.
Detective Donohoe was blasted in the head seconds after he stepped out of his car to confront the gang as they launched the hold-up on Friday night.
He did not have time to draw his police-issue weapon.
The gang had been lying in wait for the isolated credit union to close. They would have known that a Garda escort unit would be in attendance.
The crime scene at Bellurgan, Jenkinstown, near the border, remained sealed off for two days after the attack.
Adrian Donohoe’s murder is the first of a serving Garda officer for 17 years and sparked widespread revulsion throughout Irish society.
Among those also offering condolences on the police murder were John Hennessey-Niland, charge d’affaires at the US Embassy in Dublin, and representatives from the trade union Siptu.
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