‘Your dad was one of the bravest’ - Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe given posthumous award

Caroline Donohoe, widow of Det Garda Adrian Donohoe, receives his posthumous gold Scott Medal. Picture: Colin Keegan

People living near Dundalk may hold vital clues which could bring the killers of Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe to justice, Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan has said.

Speaking at Templemore College yesterday, where Det Garda Donohoe, 44, was awarded a gold Scott Medal posthumously, Ms O’Sullivan said the fact the investigation had been ongoing for more than three years was frustrating.

Five men suspected of carrying out the murder during a robbery at Lordship Credit Union, near Dundalk, on January 25, 2013 are known to gardaí.

Three, including the gunman, have moved to the US and a fourth is based around the border counties.

The pregnant girlfriend of the suspected gunman is with him in New York.

Ms O’Sullivan said she would encourage anyone with even the smallest piece of information to come forward.”

“I am conscious there are people living in the local community that may have that final piece of the jigsaw and I would encourage anybody who has any tiny piece to get in touch with the local gardaí in confidence. It’s very important that the investigation is sequenced in a way that will get the best result and the outcome we all want to see,” she said.

“Investigations are very tedious. They have to be done very meticulously; mistakes cannot be made.

“And sometimes the length of time can be very frustrating. Frustrating for the men and women, some of whom were colleagues of Adrian, who have to continue that work.

“It’s very frustrating for all of us in An Garda Síochána, but we have to make sure that the evidence is put together that sustains a prosecution. It is absolutely our determination that the people that murdered Adrian will be brought to justice”.

Presenting the gold Scott Medal to Det Garda Donohoe’s widow, Caroline, who was accompanied by the couple’s two children, Niall and Amy, Ms O’Sullivan said the courage shown by Det Garda Donohoe and Det Garda Joe Ryan, who was on duty with him, typified the bravery which distinguishes An Garda Síochána from other professions.

Gardaí, she said, walk towards danger to protect people.

“Today we walk on the shoulders of giants,” she said.

There was sustained applause when the commissioner turned to Det Garda Donohoe’s children and said: “Your dad was one of the bravest, most courageous members of An Garda Síochána.”

Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said it was a difficult but proud day for the force.

Courage, she said, comes naturally to An Garda Síochána, and the force draws its strength from the people and community.

Ms Fitzgerald said the awards bring home the wide range of circumstances in which members of An Garda Síochána are called on to risk their lives to protect others.

The work of An Garda Síochána is as important today in sustaining our democracy as in the early days of the State, she said.

Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan with Garda Gerard Flaherty (retired), who received a commendation. Picture: Don Moloney
Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan with Garda Gerard Flaherty (retired), who received a commendation. Picture: Don Moloney

Ms Fitzgerald joined the commissioner in appealing to people to come forward with any information regarding the crime which took the life of Det Garda Donohoe.

Det Garda Ryan, 51, a native of Mayfield, Co Cork, who was with Det Garda Donohoe when the attack was carried out, received a silver Scott Medal for showing “exceptional courage, involving risk to his life in the execution of his duty”.

Bronze Scott Medals were awarded to Garda Liam O’Leary, 52, a native of Killeagh, stationed in Carrigtwohill; Garda Thomas Dalton, 35, a native of Maynooth, stationed in Leixlip; and Sgt Paul Johnstone, 50, a native of Louth and stationed in Dublin.

Garda O’Leary was off duty on September 25, 2013, when he tackled and over-powered a man armed with a knife. The criminal had carried out a robbery at a filling station shop in Carrigtwohill when the garda heard the man shouting for help.

The culprit ran from the scene and, about 200m away, Garda O’Leary caught up with him and during a violent struggle, wrestled the knife from the attacker before arresting him.

Garda Dalton apprehended a man who had held up a pharmacy in Leixlip brandishing a gun.

Sgt Johnstone tackled two men wearing motorbike helmets after he immobilised their motorbike as they tried to speed off after carrying out a robbery.

Garda Thomas Dalton with his wife Niamh and their children Oisin, 9 months, and Lucy, 3, after he received a bronze Scott Medal at the commendation ceremony at Templemore. Picture: Don Moloney
Garda Thomas Dalton with his wife Niamh and their children Oisin, 9 months, and Lucy, 3, after he received a bronze Scott Medal at the commendation ceremony at Templemore. Picture: Don Moloney

First-class commendations were awarded to Det Garda Stephen Ryan, 46, Shannon; Det Garda Mortimer Flaherty (retired), 61, a native of Moyvane, stationed at Shannon; and Sgt David Condren (retired), 54, a native of Clontarf and stationed at Killaloe.

All three were involved in the rescue of a father and his three children from a house fire in Purcell Park, Shannon, in 2005.

The man, aged 30, and his children — twins aged 7 and another aged 3 — were in the house when it was set alight. On arrival at the scene, the gardaí formed a human chain to rescue the children and their father.

A woman was subsequently charged with starting the fire.

First-class commendations were also awarded to Garda Sean O’Mahony, 37, Athy; Garda Kevin Joyce, 42, Athy; Det Garda Dara Diffily, 47, Naas; Garda Fiona Butler, 32, Naas; Garda Ronan O’Reilly, 37, Finglas; and Det Garda John Kennedy, 30, Kilkenny.

Fire rescue

A garda yesterday spoke for the first time of a dramatic rescue during which he and two colleagues saved the lives of a father and his three young children from a blazing house in Shannon, Co Clare.

Retired garda Gerard (Mortimer) Flaherty from Moyvane, Co Kerry along with former colleagues, Sergeant David Condren (also retired) and Det Garda Stephen Ryan received first class commendations at the Garda College in Templemore for their bravery.

Mr Flaherty, aged 60, who now lives in Newmarket on Fergus recalled the events:

“I can remember the day well, the 25th of September 2005. It was just before six o’clock in the morning.

“We were all on duty in the station in Shannon when a call came in that there was a house fire in Plunkett Park.

“The three of us rushed to the house and there was smoke coming from the upstairs part.

“A man and his children were trapped inside. We tried to get in by the back door, but couldn’t. We then got a ladder and put it up to a top bedroom window.

“Stephen went up to the top of the ladder, I was below him on the ladder and David was at the bottom.

“The father then handed the three children out one by one and we passed them down the ladder to safety and we then got the father out.

“Only for an alert neighbour raising the alarm quickly they would have perished in the fire which was developing very quickly.

“It had started in a downstairs sitting room and in minutes the whole house was engulfed. We formed a human chain down the ladder and got them out before the fire brigade got to the house.”

A woman was later prosecuted for deliberately starting the fire.

“It happened a long time ago and it’s great to meet my colleagues from all those years ago here again today,” Mr Flaherty said.


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