A detective shot dead during a credit union robbery in Louth was a virtuous man who was a perfect role model for the rest of society, his state funeral heard today.
Thousands of mourners endured sleet and near freezing temperatures to pay their respects to Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe, who was killed as he confronted a gang of men on rural roads near his home on the Cooley peninsula near the border on Friday night.
Chief celebrant Father Michael Cusack, rector of St Joseph’s Redemptorist Church in Dundalk, said no one could adequately put into words the pain suffered by his wife Caroline – herself a garda – and their two young children, Amy, seven, and Niall, six.
In heartbreaking scenes, Amy took to the altar the mobile phone she used to phone her father to say goodnight when he was on duty, and the television remote control she used to hide from him.
Niall took a football that he and his father used to play with, as well as his favourite Manchester United jersey.
Mr Cusack said Mr Donohoe was a loyal, honest, virtuous and faithful man who laid down his life for his community.
“The whole country is gutted by what has happened,” he said.
Mr Donohoe was shot in the head as he went to approach a number of men at a car on the grounds of his local credit union in the village of Lordship.
He was escorting staff with cash takings for the night. He was not originally rostered to be on duty.
In a moving eulogy, Mr Donohoe’s brother Colm, also a serving garda, said he died doing the job he was born to do and that he loved.
“Adrian was incredibly highly regarded for the quality of his work, he was professional to the last and he died doing the job that he was born to do and the job that he loved,” Mr Donohoe said.
“Whatever Adrian did, whether it was on the football pitch, as a husband, father, son or a guard, he did it to the best of his ability."
Mr Donohoe went on to describe his brother as big in stature and in heart, and generous to a fault.
Streets around the church came to a standstill as up to 1,500 members of the public stood shoulder to shoulder with 2,500 uniformed gardai.
President Michael D Higgins, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, several senior government ministers and Cardinal Sean Brady were among scores of dignitaries who came from throughout Ireland, on both sides of the border, to pay their respects.
Garda commissioner Martin Callinan spoke towards the end of the funeral and reassured mourners that the killers will be found.
“No words can adequately express the great sense of loss and revulsion felt by the Donohoe family, the family of An Garda Siochana and indeed the wider public in learning about the cold blooded murder of Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe last Friday night,” he said.
“We, Adrian’s colleagues, are committed to ensuring that we bring the perpetrators responsible for this callous crime to justice.”
The police killers can expect to serve 40 years in jail if convicted.
Mr Donohoe is the first police officer shot dead in Ireland for 17 years since garda Jerry McCabe was gunned down by an IRA gang in a post office raid.
Mr McCabe’s wife Ann joined mourners in Dundalk today.
Detective Garda Joe Ryan, who was on duty with Mr Donohoe when he was killed, was among pall bearers who carried his Tricolour-draped coffin, with his Garda cap and gloves atop, into the church.
Along with his own family, the chief mourners included Mr Donohoe’s parents Peggy and Hugh, his parents-in-law Bridie and Stephen, his sisters May and Anne and brothers Colm, Martin and Alan, as well as his brothers-in-law and sister-in-law.
Northern Ireland Secretary of State Theresa Villiers, PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott and Northern Ireland Justice Minister David Ford were among the congregation.
A reward of €50,000 has been offered for information that leads to the arrest and prosecution of the gang involved in the murder, put forward by the Irish League of Credit Unions, which represents branches of the organisation both sides of the border.
Mr Donohoe was buried at Lordship cemetery on the Cooley peninsula a short distance from his home.
Gardai have appealed to people in the village of Clogherhead in Co Louth for information on a stolen car used in the murder.
The 08-D navy Volkswagen Passat was taken from a home in the village on January 22 and used in the attack on Friday night before being found burnt out beside a forest in south Armagh.