As the Minister responsible for An Garda Síochána and the Irish Prison Service it is right that at this time of the year I should express, on behalf of the Government, deep appreciation for the work of Gardaí and members of the Prison Service during 2009.  Throughout the year they again played a vital role in keeping us all safe. The past year was overshadowed by the tragic death on duty of two young Gardaí: Robert McCallion and Gary McLoughlin. We remember their families, friends and colleagues at this difficult time for them.  

Many Gardaí and Prison Service staff will have to work over the coming days to ensure that the rest of us can enjoy the holiday season. This means of necessity that they will have to spend part of the time away from their families at a time when traditionally families come together. Against that background I want simply to wish a Happy Christmas to all members of An Garda Síochána, the Prison Service and their families.  Our thoughts too are with their colleagues in the other emergency services who will be on duty over Christmas and their families.

No doubt 2010 will bring more challenges for those involved in law enforcement and I have no doubt that they will continue to respond to those challenges with commitment and determination. I wish all involved a peaceful new year and assure them of the support of the community in their efforts.

23 December 2009