It was a sight to behold. The band of blue joined in their intense sorrow and grief at the loss of one of their own.
As the coffin of fallen Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe made it’s way to it’s final resting place, the sea of gardaí, walking in silent unity against the needless slaying of a man going about his job, was moving to say the least.
One reporter described the scene of 2,500 uniformed gardaí and another 1,000 plainclothes officers who gathered to bid their last goodbyes to their comrade as a “show of strength, silent but eloquent”.
His son Niall carried his Manchester United shirt and a football in the offertory procession in remembrance of the days he played football with his daddy.
His daughter Amy brought the TV remote control, because she used to hide it from her daddy; and her late father’s mobile phone, to symbolise all the nights she rang him to say goodnight when he was working late, as he was on that fateful night last Friday outside the Lordship Credit Union in Bellurgan.
Every article I read, every picture I viewed of the funeral sent a cold chill through my body and brought a tear to the brink of falling from my eyes. Only the devil himself could have escaped this kind of emotion which became almost breathtaking as you continued to read each paper’s tribute to a true hero.
It was the saddest of saddest occasions. Two beautiful children will never understand why this atrocity happened. Because the adults in their lives can’t make sense of it either. His wife Caroline, herself a garda, knows the dangers of the job they signed up to. But that will never be compensation enough for the loss of her beloved husband at the hands of merciless criminals who are now cowering from the law as the man hunt continues for their arrest and incarceration.
It was an act of pure evil.
This all happened in a week when Mayo saw the closure of six Garda stations with local politicians vying for the headlines to either damn the justice minister for his decision, or reassure the mainly rural population affected that they will in fact benefit from a better service as a result. Only time will tell what the effects of this decision will be.
And as a further distraction to the sorrow which is deeply felt by the people of Ireland, a national discourse arose over the last week about Luke Ming Flanagan’s comments about the Irish police force being corrupt. He made his remarks on the Vincent Browne show on TV3 on the eve of Det Garda Donohoe’s funeral, and the timing was certainly off.
To counteract that in Thursday’s Irish Independent reporter Paul Williams reacted strongly to Ming’s remarks. But surely he knows that no establishment, least of all An Garda Siochána, is without a few bad eggs and beyond reproach. Whether it’s the Church, the media, financial institutions, or the gardaí, they have all been exposed in the not so distant past for wrongdoings and to hail any of them as squeaky clean is doing a dis-service to those who have worked tirelessly to expose the corruption that has marred each establishments’ reputation.
Right now that won’t be on the minds of Det Garda Donohoe’s wife, children, parents, families and friends. They are in deep mourning and their grief is felt strongly by a nation united in his honour.