Taoiseach Enda Kenny has led tributes to the young garda and a woman who lost their lives during the flash floods that wreaked havoc across the east of Ireland.
The body of Garda Ciaran Jones, 25, was pulled from the River Liffey in Co Wicklow this morning, close to where he was swept into the water while trying to help motorists in danger during last night’s deluge.
Around the same time, the body of a woman – believed to be a Filipina in her 30s – was discovered after emergency services pumped water out of a flooded basement flat in Crumlin, south Dublin.
“I would like to tender my sympathies to the families of those who unfortunately have lost their lives,” said Mr Kenny.
Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore described the deaths as “two great tragedies that cast a cloud over the day”.
Neighbours evacuated from Parnell Road in Crumlin late last night alerted emergency services to a bottom floor apartment where it was believed the Filipina woman had been living.
Divers from the Garda Water Unit were unable to find anything during an initial search in the early hours of the morning but the woman’s remains were later recovered when the basement was drained.
The woman has yet to be formally identified.
Rescue workers recovered Garda Jones’s body from the River Liffey at Ballyward Bridge in Manor Kilbride, Co Wicklow, shortly after 9am.
The officer, who was stationed at Stepaside, south Dublin, and lived at Manor Kilbride, had been helping people on the upper stretches of the river at Ballysmuttan Bridge with his brother and a friend when he was pulled into the fast flowing waters at 7pm yesterday evening. He was off duty at the time.
Superintendent Eamon Keogh, of Blessington Garda Station, said Garda Jones – a member of the force for about four years – died trying to help others.
“He was seen for a few moments by friends and then he wasn’t seen again,” he said.
Garda Jones’s brother and sister were at the scene last night while his parents, who were out of the country on holiday, were expected to return today.
The Irish Coast Guard, the Garda helicopter and mountain and river rescue teams joined Garda colleagues in a search lasting several hours.
Justice Minister Alan Shatter said “all of us have lost a brave man who put his life at risk in helping the public at a time of great danger”.
The accident happened after torrential downpours battered the east of the country with almost a month’s rain falling in 24 hours, shutting down businesses, the country’s largest shopping centre, law courts and sparking evacuations from dozens of homes.
Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan on hearing of the recovery of the body of Garda Ciaran Jones, Stepaside Garda Station, extended his sympathies to Ciarans family and colleagues on his sudden death.
On behalf of all members of the Garda Representative Association, GRA President Damien McCarthy issued the following statement on the news of the death of Garda Ciaran Jones.
“It is with great sadness and sorrow that members of An Garda Síochána have learned of the tragic death of Garda Ciaran Jones. Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to his parents, family, friends and colleagues.
“Garda Jones was a spirited, brave and committed young man who risked his life to save others, and in the course of doing so he made the ultimate sacrifice. He was one of the most popular members in Stepaside Garda Station and was genuinely loved and respected by the community he served. His colleagues are deeply shocked.
“He will be fondly remembered and sorely missed by all who knew him.”