Slain detective was from 'police family'

A Garda officer shot dead during a robbery in Co Louth was part of a dedicated police family – his widow, two brothers and extended family are also members of the Gardaí.

Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe, 41, a father-of-two was gunned down half a mile from home as he tried to stop raiders escaping with cash from a Credit Union close to the border town of Dundalk, Co Louth.

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan said the entire force had been deeply shocked and saddened by the murder – the first of a serving officer in 17 years.

Commissioner Callinan said: “He was a very popular member of An Garda Síochána, a very efficient member, someone who was revered both by his peers and members of the community where he served.”

A wide police cordon extending for several miles was still in place around the crime scene outside Lordship Credit Union at Bellurgan, Jenkinstown which is about seven miles outside Dundalk.

Specialist officers from the Garda Forensic and Technical Bureau were combing the area for clues and could be seen scouring the bushes and hedgerows lining the rural roads. A blue tent was erected in the Credit Union carpark where the officer was tragically cut down.

The slain officer’s body was taken away last night to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Dundalk where a post mortem examination was expected to be carried out.

Detectives are still investigating whether subversive elements such as dissident republicans were involved or whether a criminal gang was responsible.

A massive all-Ireland man hunt has been launched.

It is understood the armed gang of four men were waiting outside to rob the Credit Union which stays open late on Fridays.

Det Garda Donohoe approached the gang and a number of shots were fired before they fled in a grey Volkswagen Passat. It is understood he was hit in the head without warning and before he had drawn his garda-issue weapon.

He was one of two officers on escort duty and was shot minutes after jumping out of his patrol car.

He was pronounced dead a short while later. Although traumatised, it is believed his colleague was physically uninjured.

It is not known whether the getaway car – believed to be dark coloured – fled north or continued south of the border.

Commissioner Callinan said every effort would be made to bring the perpetrators to justice.

“Resources will not be an issue. We will put all our energy towards finding out precisely who was behind this robbery. It is too early to speculate whether there was a subversive element to this or whether they are ordinary criminals.”

A book of condolence was opened at Dundalk garda station where the murdered officer was based. Former colleagues and members of the public have been attending the station with floral tributes and leaving messages of support.

Some members of the community were visibly shaken and embraced uniformed officers as they conveyed sympathies.

Joe Crawley, 34, who lives a mile from the murder scene, said: “It is just shocking. I am angered, disgusted and saddened at the killing. I have never felt such an intense mixture of feelings. It was totally unnecessary.”

The Garda Representative Association said the killing highlighted the dangers Gardai face in the course of their duties and it must be condemned.

GRA president John Parker said: “This dreadful news is what every police family fears.

“At this time the wider garda family will be doing everything possible to support the late garda’s relatives and loved ones, friends and colleagues. There is a deep shock across An Garda Síochána – and Irish society.”

Mr Donohoe was originally from Co Cavan but was actively involved with the community in Co Louth and was a keen GAA fan.

The Cavan County Board has expressed its sympathy to his family, as he was former minor and U-21 player for the county.

A notice said: “The board and officers of Cavan County Board wish to extend their sympathies to the family, colleagues, friends and club members of former County minor and U-21 player, Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe following his tragic death in the course of duty last night.”

Paul Breen, a member of St Patrick’s GAA club in Lordship said: “The whole community is shocked – what else could they be? But, for these people, this is just a way of life.”

Det Garda Donohoe is survived by his widow Caroline and two children, a boy and a girl.

Two of his brothers who are also in the police are stationed in Swords and Navan.

President Michael D Higgins was also among those leading the tributes. He described the killing as a dreadful crime and said all Irish people would be truly appalled.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the murder was an outrageous and appalling act of cold blooded violence.

He said: “(It) has left a family without a husband and father and the Garda Siochana without a brave and valued member.”

Justice Minister Alan Shatter said no effort will be spared in bringing those responsible for the murder to book.

“The Irish people rightly have great respect and admiration for members of An Garda Síochána and the work they do in protecting the community.

“They will share my revulsion and horror that a Garda has so tragically lost his life in the course of his duties.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and colleagues of Adrian, who lost his life in carrying out his duty in the best traditions of the brave men and women of An Garda Síochána.”

There has been cross party political condemnation of the shooting.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said it was a direct assault on society.

Sinn Féin councillor Jim Loughran, who knows the Donohoe family, said the local community had been left stunned.

He said: “This garda was admired, trusted and respected by all in the locality. He and his young family are part of the daily life of the area. We want to express our heartfelt sympathy to the garda’s family, friends, colleagues and neighbours at this sad time.”

Cardinal Seán Brady, head of the Catholic Church in Ireland said he was deeply upset by news of the horrific killing.

“The taking of innocent life is always wrong,” the Cardinal said.

David Ford, the North’s Minister for Justice has also added his condemnation.

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