Business of Dáil

The House will be aware of the tragic incident in County Wicklow yesterday evening when Garda Ciaran Jones was swept away at Ballysmuttan Bridge. The recovery of his remains today in Wicklow is dreadful news. My heart goes out to his parents and family members. I offer my condolences to Garda Jones's colleagues and friends. The Garda Síochána, and all of us, have lost a brave man who put his life at risk in helping the public at a time of great danger. The Stepaside community has lost a dedicated member of its Garda Force. Garda Jones's courageous actions were in the finest traditions of the Garda Síochána.

I thank all of those involved in the rescue efforts, including Garda Jones's colleagues, the local Glen of Imaal Mountain Rescue team, the Defence Forces, Civil Defence, coastguard and members of the public. Their commitment and dedication in such hazardous conditions are deeply appreciated. The extraordinary, dreadful sacrifice, in seeking to save the lives of others in appalling conditions, made by Garda Ciaran Jones will be remembered by all of us in this House.

I join with the Minister and House in expressing my sympathies to the family, colleagues and members of the Stepaside and Wicklow communities on the death of Garda Ciaran Jones. I endorse all that the Minister said.

That Garda Jones was off duty when he undertook to protect his neighbours is an indication of his bravery. Our thoughts are with his family, including his parents who are travelling back from abroad — one can only imagine what they are going through — his brother and sister who were with him at the time of the accident, his colleagues and all those who in the most extraordinary of conditions last night searched throughout the night for him.

It is at times like this that we are reminded of the bravery of our gardaí, on and off duty, in trying to save others in all circumstances. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

I too express my deepest sympathies to the family, friends and colleagues of the late Garda Ciaran Jones. I went to Blessington this morning and asked the chief superintendent if there was anything more people could do or if he needed assistance mobilising volunteers. It is an extraordinary measure of the young man that the chief superintendent told me that such was the response from Garda Jones's community they could not handle any more volunteers.

I welcome the Minister's statement. I recall thinking to myself when watching television footage of the earthquake in Turkey that we are lucky not to have experienced that type of devastating loss of life in Ireland. I then heard that a young off-duty garda had lost his life while trying to help others. This is a sad day for him, his family and his colleagues.

I thank the Minister and Deputies for their contributions.