PRESIDENT Michael D. Higgins has paid tribute to the bravery of fallen gardaí at the rededication ceremony of a monument honouring those who have died in service since 1922.
Saturday's event at Garda Headquarters in Dublin's Phoenix Park saw the unveiling of the refurbished Garda Monument of Remembrance.
The memorial now commemorates the lives of all members of An Garda Síochána and garda staff who died while in service since the organisation's foundation 101 years ago.
The names of deceased garda personnel have been inscribed on bronze plating around the water feature, while the cenotaph has been updated with the names of garda members murdered in the course of duty.
President Higgins, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris and Minister for Justice Helen McEntee laid wreaths at the monument, which was also attended by the families, colleagues and friends of the deceased.
In his speech, the president praised the move to update the monument to honour all those who have died in service, whatever the circumstances.
"In remembering those taken in the most sudden of circumstances, in some cases most brutally, we are reminded of the bravery which is represented by all of those who have committed their lives to public safety, knowing that on any given day they may find themselves in the gravest of circumstances," said President Higgins.
"The work of An Garda Síochána over the last 100 years cannot be captured in any brief summary, nor in any narrow account or definition of policy.
"It includes all of the work of all those who have served in our communities over the last century, providing as they did, in so many practical and intangible ways, that comfort which so many have experienced in their moments of greatest loss, and from day-to-day assisting and protecting us not only when the worst calamities arise, but when they are being prepared, threatened or feared.
"Those members whose lives and services are being recalled and honoured by the monument we stand before today includes each of those members of An Garda Síochána murdered in the line of duty.
President Higgins today laid a wreath, on behalf of the people of Ireland, in remembrance of all those members and staff of An Garda Síochána who have lost their lives in service over the past 101 years, at the refurbished Garda Monument of Remembrance at @gardainfo headquarters pic.twitter.com/E6xNq11rmL
— President of Ireland (@PresidentIRL) September 16, 2023
"It calls to memory too those who lost their lives while rescuing others from our waters or assisting the public suffering, distressed and displaced in times of flooding, or again during the COVID-19 pandemic, while responding to emergency calls, and at so many times and in the differing conditions which we have collectively and individually faced. Traoslaím leo.
"May I commend An Garda Síochána for extending the monument's reach beyond its original conception, including as it now does the names of all those members and staff of An Garda Síochána who have lost their lives in whatever circumstances while serving in the organisation, each one leaving behind as they did grieving families, close friendships and community members.
"This is a deeply appropriate measure.
"While there is an outpouring of national loss each time a member of An Garda Síochána is killed in the line of duty, the personal and collective grief experienced by all those who lose an individual at a young age, in any circumstance, has a devastating effect on their colleagues, their community and, most of all, their family."
'Their lives meant so much'
Meanwhile, Mr Harris said he hoped the memorial would serve as a reminder of the vital role played by members of An Garda Síochána.
"This monument of remembrance honours all our colleagues who have died during the course of their careers with An Garda Síochána," he said.
"Today is a day that offers us time to commemorate those loved ones and all they achieved in life — inside and outside of An Garda Síochána.
"Their lives meant so much to so many.
"I hope that every day as we pass this monument that we think of those whose names are inscribed here.
"I also hope that it will prompt all garda personnel to think of our own service and the crucial role we all play to keep people safe."