Address by the Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD,
on the occasion of the Annual Garda Memorial Day
Saturday, 18 May, 2019,
Dubhlinn Gardens, Dublin Castle, Dublin 2
Commissioner, Members of An Garda Síochána serving and retired, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen and relatives and friends of those members of An Garda Síochána who gave their lives while serving their communities.
I feel both privileged and humbled to be here today at the Annual Garda Memorial Day, where we remember with reverence and pride their sacrifice in the line of duty.
It is an honour to be here, in this garden of remembrance, and to read the names of those who have died in service to this State inscribed on the Roll of Honour.
We honour their memory here today and pay tribute to their dedication and their courage. We stand with the families, friends and wider community in sharing their deep loss.
In remembering them here today in this peaceful Garden of Remembrance, and as I read the names of those who have died in service to this State inscribed on the Roll of Honour, we commit to ensuring that their legacy lives on and that their values and ideals, and those of An Garda Síochána, since its foundation, are never forgotten.
The fate they suffered, they did not deserve. On this day, we think of them and their families, knowing that every day they must bear the loss of a loving husband, brother, son.
In their work they typified the values that characterise what is best about An Garda Síochána – unstinting commitment to country, community and family; personal bravery, a spirit of determined public service and fearless dedication to their fellow citizens and to this State.
We recognise the service that they gave to the State and the sacrifices they made and their heroic bravery puts in sharp contrast the ignominious cowardice of those who sought to undermine our way of life.
Today is a reminder, if any was needed, of the dangers encountered by the men and women of An Garda Síochána. We should never underestimate the difficulties they face on our behalf and we are thankful for their courage. The Government is committed to supporting the work of An Garda Síochána and to ensuring that the organisation is properly resourced to carry out its important role in protecting our communities.
There is no doubt that it requires courage and personal resolve to serve as a member of An Garda Síochána. It is a fact that the men and women of An Garda Síochána, every single day put themselves in harm’s way in order that we may go about our lawful business and enjoy the right to live safely in our communities. Knowing of the heroic acts of personal bravery each of these Garda members performed, I was deeply struck by the extraordinary courage displayed by these members when faced with these situations, willingly putting others safety before their own, which ultimately cost them their lives.
On behalf of the Government and every citizen, I wish to acknowledge this, and to assure family and friends of our gratitude, respect and support.
As we reflect on these heroic actions, many of us will wonder at the source of this courage and determination- the answer quite simply must be that as a member of An Garda Síochána, courage comes naturally, and is drawn from the strength and courage from colleagues and from the families and communities who remember them here today.
We remember with pride the courage of those who sacrificed so much so that we may go about our daily lives without fear. In the proud tradition of An Garda Síochána, they committed their lives to public service, and made the “ultimate sacrifice” in the service of their country. On behalf of the Government, I wish to express my deepest sympathies to the families of those whose lives were cut so short in the service of their country.
Every day An Garda Síochána works in partnership with their colleagues in the other emergency services, in order to protect us when we are at our most vulnerable. It is appropriate that we pause today to remember the members of those services who have lost their lives over the years in the service of others, that we acknowledge their work, and the work of An Garda Síochána, in ensuring peace on this island.
I want to say today - their sacrifice will not be in vein; the members of An Garda Síochána who risk their lives in facing down those, who by their cowardly actions, seek to destroy the peace of our communities and our country, have the full support of the Government and the communities north and south of the border.
The Garda Memorial Garden is a beautiful place of reverence where loved ones, friends and members of the communities in which our fallen heroes have served, can reflect and acknowledge the sacrifice they made on our behalf. It is right that we have a place dedicated to remembering the 88 members of An Garda Síochána who have died while protecting the people of the State since 1922.
I would like to thank all those who work to ensure that it is a fitting memorial to those who have laid down their lives for us all.