Family and friends of an off-duty garda who died as he helped motorists made an emotional return to the scene today as a bridge was named in his honour.
Garda Ciaran Jones was swept from the bridge at Ballysmuttan, Co Wicklow, as he tried to warn others about dangerous flood waters.
His grief-stricken parents John and Brenda, siblings Alan and Michelle, and girlfriend Clare Kennedy were supported by family and friends during a solemn service.
Mrs Jones clutched a photograph of her 25-year-old son and cried as tributes were paid to the young garda.
Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan said he felt a huge sense of pride at the ceremony, coupled with a continuing sense of loss and sadness.
“I earnestly hope the memories of happy moments that you shared together will be of solace to you,” he said.
“I am proud to have had Ciaran as a member of An Garda Siochana. His heroism and dedication have been recognised widely, both at home and abroad.”
Commissioner Callinan said the love and support gardai get from family members were an immense source of support as officers go about their duty and protect communities.
“Unfortunately, however, garda families must also carry a burden of worry as loved ones face risk and dangers in their daily work,” he added.
“Tragically for some families, like the Jones’, that burden of worry becomes a burden of loss when members lose their lives in the course of their service.
“I am sure the passage of time has done little to lessen your sense of loss and grief following the tragedy that unfolded at this location last October.”
Gda Jones, of Kilbride, Co Wicklow, was swept into fast-flowing waters on October 24.
The off-duty officer, who was stationed at Stepaside, south Dublin, had been helping people on the upper stretches of the river with his brother and a friend when the tragedy happened.
His body was recovered from the River Liffey the next day.
About 100 people formed a guard of honour as Gda Jones’ family crossed the bridge, which was covered with flowers and photographs from his school and GAA days.
Cllr Sylvester Bourke, chair of Wicklow County Council, said it had been a unanimous agreement to dedicate the bridge to the late Garda who heroically lost his life trying to help others.
“We remember him today along with all the other persons who lost their lives at this bridge and in this location as we officially name this bridge The Ciaran Jones Bridge.”
Cllr Jim Ruttle, a neighbour of the Jones family, proposed at a meeting of the Baltinglass Electoral Area of Wicklow County Council in March that the bridge be renamed in Gda Jones’ honour.