An Irish bishop has voiced his “awful sadness” at the loss of a policeman murdered “so randomly and horrendously” after Detective Garda Colm Horkan was shot several times with his own gun in an incident June 17 in Castlerea, County Roscommon.

Garda Colm Horkan’s death a reminder of the bravery of gardaí

Full text of the statement of Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy

(Source: Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference)

Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy has said that the passing of Garda Colm Horkan has been a tragic reminder of the heroism and bravery of an Garda Síochána as they go out to work daily to make society safer for all of us.

Speaking following a poignant remembrance service outside Henry Street Garda station in Limerick June 21 as hundreds gathered to pay their respects to Colm Horkan, including large numbers of fellow gardai, Bishop Leahy said an unmistakable sense of the selflessness of Gardai permeated the solemn occasion.

The event involved a moment’s silence followed by prayers led by Bishop Leahy and Bishop Kenneth Kearon and was attended by politicians, support services representatives and other community leaders, as well as the GAA.

Speaking of the ceremony, Leahy said: “It was a moving experience. Moving, because we were recalling the awful sadness of a life taken so randomly and horrendously in the line of duty; moving, because I was struck by the obvious thought of dread that must cross every Garda’s mind: ‘such a thing could happen to me in the course of my daily duty’; moving because Colm Horkan was not just a colleague to those I was standing beside in prayer but also because Colm Horkan was such a man of community and of sport, a man of and for his people”.

“It was moving also because as Gardaí gathered in Limerick today, it made me recognise with renewed admiration and gratitude how these women and men are, just like Colm Horkan, integral in our community. They are beacons of the order and peace so essential to our social cohesion and wellbeing.

“Gardaí help not alone to ensure society is on its best behaviour but facilitate harmony in society where we can then flourish. We are indebted to them.

“We don’t always think of it, but there is an unwritten but real premise imprinted on their job description – be ready to give your life for others. No one has a greater love than that”.

Bishop Leahy said that Limerick knows the loss of a garda in the line of duty only too well and this deepened the solidarity with all in Castlerea and Charlestown this day.

“It is twenty-four years ago this month that Detective Garda Jerry McCabe was shot dead and Detective Garda Ben O’Sullivan was seriously injured in Adare. We think of them and of their families today as well.

“And today, of course, we pray for Garda Colm Horkan’s soul, that he is at peace and that his watch and protection will continue from above”.

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PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.