They came to the Mansion House in their uniforms in pairs and groups, gardaí in stab vests, and schoolgirls in knee socks.
Young and old, bearing shopping bags or briefcases, they were all driven by the same sense of shock and the shared urge to show their solidarity.
A signature in a book of condolence wasn’t much, they said, but it was important to do something to say the murder of Detective Garda Adrian Donohue was wrong.
Dublin Lord Mayor Naoise Ó Muirí was first to sign the book, one of many that have been opened at town halls, Garda stations, and GAA clubs around the country, and he expressed his sadness at the killing of Det Gda Donohue.
“He died serving community and country,” he wrote, in a sentiment repeated often on the pages which contained dozens of thank yous from people eager to tell those who loved him they appreciated the job he did.
Assistant Commissioner John Twomey led the Garda tributes, leaving his title aside to write not as a superior officer, but as a comrade. “Very sad times for the family of Detective Garda Donohue,” he wrote. “Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.”
Anne Gibney from Rathgar was struck by the terrible personal tragedy his death represented. “We lost a young man in our family through cancer and he left two small children as well, and we know the pain that poor girl is going to go through. There is no shortcut through it.”
Solicitor John McBratney said he felt it was important to register his abhorrence of what happened. “It was an utterly immoral, vile act. Disbelief was my reaction. There is so little you can do as a citizen but this is a very good idea. It’s a very civilised response — exactly opposite to the kind of act that cost Garda Donohue his life.”
Niamh Gallagher also felt her signature was a symbol of standing firm against the kind of people who would murder a garda. “He was part of a force who protect us all and we need to show our respect and to say we’re not going to stand for this kind of thing,” she said.
Dara Elliot from Swords said he was appalled by what happened. “You don’t hear of guards getting attacked in that way. It’s more usually the scumbags shooting the scumbags and if they stay away from everybody else, nobody cares. It has made me think a bit more about what the guards do for us. They put themselves in the line of fire.”
Hugh McGowan, a first-year law student from Limerick, signed his name “on behalf of a Garda family”. “When I first heard it on the news, I heard a garda was killed on duty and I didn’t know who or where but it immediately affects you. My dad is a former garda and I have family stationed in the border region in Donegal and it’s absolutely shocking when you know members of your family have been in similar situations, carrying out similar duties.”
He was dismayed that the Tricolour was not at half-mast on Government Buildings yet, although that mark of respect will be observed on all public buildings on Wednesday when Det Gda Donohue is laid to rest.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved