Bishop Kevin Doran has paid tribute to the garda detective who died in a shooting incident in Castlerea, Co. Roscommon in the Diocese of Elphin.
He has been named by gardaí as Detective Garda Colm Horkan.
The armed detective, who was from Co Mayo, was on duty on his own in Castlerea when he was shot just before midnight allegedly by his own gun. A man in his 40s has been arrested and is being held at Castlerea Garda Station. A murder investigation is under way.
In a statement this morning, Bishop Doran said that “in recent weeks there has been much emphasis on the generous service of what we now call our ‘frontline workers’, often at great personal risk. This was brought into sharp relief by the murder of a garda on duty last night here in our own diocese.
“The taking of a human life is always gravely sinful, but there is something particularly disturbing about the killing of someone who was actively engaged in protecting our community,” Dr Doran said.
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has said he is “deeply saddened” by the death of the Det. Garda Horkan.
In a statement, the commissioner said the “thoughts, and the thoughts of all personnel in An Garda Síochána, are with the family, friends and colleagues” of the garda who “served the communities he worked in with distinction and pride during his 24 years as a member” of the force.
Mr Harris said the death of the detective garda “is a terrible reminder of the significant sacrifices, including the ultimate sacrifice, that gardaí make to keep people safe”.
Bishop Doran said that “the gift of life” was given to Garda Horkan “as to each one of us, by a God who loves him.
“I join with all those who, this morning, offer sympathy and the promise of prayers to the deceased Garda’s family and friends, as well as to his colleagues in Castlerea and throughout An Garda Síochána. May he rest in peace.
Gardaí are now trying to establish the circumstances surrounding the incident. It is understood Det. Garda Horkan was on patrol in the town when he got out of his vehicle to engage with someone.
He became involved in a physical altercation and called for assistance.
It appears the detective’s official firearm was taken from him during the incident and a number of shots were fired at the garda.
An ambulance crew that was in the area at the time treated the garda, but he died at the scene. His immediate family were informed in the early hours of this morning.
Det. Garda Horkan is the 89th garda to die in the line of duty since the force was founded in the 1920s.
Local priest Fr John McManus was called to the scene and administered the last rites. Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, he said gardaí in Castlerea were “deeply shocked and saddened” by what happened.
He said his thoughts and prayers were with the garda’s family and colleagues in Castlerea and gardaí everywhere.
His body has been removed to Mayo University Hospital in Castlebar where a post-mortem examination is due to be carried out later today.
The scene at the junction of Patrick Street and Main Street in Castlerea remains sealed off pending a forensic examination by members of the Garda Technical Bureau.
Gardaí have appealed to anyone who was in the town centre between 11pm and 12.30am, particularly road users with dash cam footage, to contact Castlerea Garda Station on 094 962 1635.