Retiring garda is applauded in court

A judge was mildly mortified in court this week (May 12 ) when, after paying tribute to a retiring garda, he was told “You were the first judge I gave evidence to”.

“Don’t tell them when!” said Judge John Neilan to Garda Jim O’Keeffe, who was attending court for the last time after nearly 30 years in An Garda Siochána.

Mullingar native Garda O’Keeffe was retiring from the Traffic Corps in Moate, after previously serving in Kilbeggan and Donegal.

“I’ve known you for many years in various guises as a travelling judge and I just want to thank you for your kindnesses,” said the judge to Garda O’Keeffe after he had given his final evidence.

“Over the years people have been benefitting not only from your prosecutions, but from the warnings given and the wisdom imparted,” offered Judge Neilan.

“I wish to thank you most sincerely for the way in which you have served. You are held in the highest esteem and highest respect and I wish the very best of luck to you,” he said.

“I don’t know if you know this, but you were the first judge I ever gave evidence to,” said Garda O’Keeffe, whose first cousin Eilish Ryan is editor of the Westmeath Examiner.

“Don’t tell them when!” exclaimed the judge.

“I think it most appropriate that you’re the last judge I give evidence to,” said Garda O’Keeffe. which, uniquely for Athlone District Court, initiated a spontaneous round of applause.

On behalf of the legal profession Mr Paul Connellan called Garda O’Keeffe “a credit to his profession”, and echoed Judge Neilan’s opinion that it was the standard of Garda O’Keeffe’s advice and wisdom that stood him out from the rank and file.

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