There has been a national outpouring of both shock and grief in the days since the terrible loss of Detective Garda Colm Horkan, who gave his life serving the State and protecting the community. We have come to learn of the man so beloved of his family, his community and his Garda colleagues. As Minister for Justice and Equality, I convey again my deepest condolences to Colm's father, Marty, his sister and fellow public servant, Deirdre, his brothers, Aiden, Brendan, Dermot, and Padraig, his wider family and friends, and all the women and men of An Garda Síochána who are heartbroken by his loss.
Detective Garda Horkan served with distinction for 24 years as a Garda member. He was a proud Mayo man. He was a talented stalwart of his local GAA club, Charlestown Sarsfields, since his earliest days playing there as a young boy. We have all heard his colleagues and friends describe him as a man of the highest integrity, a peacemaker, and a rock of sense and discretion who loved his job as a member of An Garda Síochána. Throughout his exemplary service, he embodied that grassroots ethos shared by the GAA and the Garda, namely, commitment to family, community and country. As the Garda Commissioner said this week, Detective Garda Horkan epitomised what all Garda members should strive to be.
The death of Detective Garda Horkan is an all too painful reminder of the personal risks that Garda members take while working to keep us safe. The women and men of An Garda Síochána, in their everyday duty, put the welfare of others ahead of themselves as they work to shield us from harm and connect our communities. While grounded in our communities, they courageously take on the burden of standing between us and danger. It is to them that we turn in times of crisis, including during the current pandemic. Each of the 89 men on the Garda Roll of Honour died in the service of the State and for the people of Ireland. That is a debt that we can never fully repay but it is one that we will always remember.
When Colm Horkan passed out of Templemore in September 1995, his classmates included Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe, who was murdered while on duty in January 2013. Also passing out that day were Garda Eoin Fitzgerald and Garda Ambrose Fogarty, killed while on duty in separate road traffic accidents in 1998 and 1999. I know Colm's death has reignited painful memories for the tight-knit community of Castlerea of the killing of Detective Garda John Morley and Garda Henry Byrne just miles away in Ballaghaderreen 40 years ago. We remember them all too today as we reflect on Colm's tragic loss.
I know these statements cannot ease the pain that the Horkan family feel for their fallen son, brother, cousin and uncle, but I hope they can take some comfort in the obvious respect and admiration for Colm Horkan that we saw in Charlestown on Sunday. Detective Garda Colm Horkan lost his life doing a job that he loved as he was protecting and serving the community he loved. He represented the very best of An Garda Síochána and the best of us. We grieve for him and we will remember his brave life which ended far too soon. May he rest in peace.