Commissioner, distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen and in particular the members of the families of those killed in the line of duty.
I am honoured to be able to attend and speak at today's ceremony. This is a solemn occasion and it is only fitting that we have all gathered here today to remember and pay tribute to the members of the Garda Síochána whose names adorn the roll of honour.
On behalf of the Government I wish to express my deepest sympathies to the families of those whose lives were cut so short in the service of their country. Words cannot match the depths of the sorrow that you have endured. When a member of An Garda Síochána is killed on duty, the loss is not just felt by their families but also by their colleagues and by the nation. Their story impacts on all of us not least because they are guardians of this democracy that we cherish, but also because we know that they are somebody's spouse, somebody's son or father, brother, colleague and friend. There can be no preparation for the immensity of such loss.
None of us, even with the greatest empathy, can claim to know what you have suffered at a time of deep personal loss. I am sure that you can identify with something I read recently that "grief is a landscape without maps where blind spots of emotional ambushes await, sparked by unexpected triggers". During their years of service, the men we honour today dealt with many families whose lives were changed forever by the unexpected death of a loved one. I am sure they treated the bereaved with kindness and compassion. Little did they know that the day would come when the lives of their own families would be changed forever by their own deaths.
On this occasion last year I said that our prayer must be that the roll of honour is not added to for a very long time. Unfortunately this has not been the case. The brutal murder of Adrian Donohoe was an unspeakable crime and life-changing for his family. The addition of Adrian's name to this roll of honour brings to 87 the number of members who have been killed in the line of duty. It is 87 too many. The government have expressed their revulsion and deep sadness and I wish on their behalf and on my own behalf to extend again my condolences to his family and to all members of An Garda Síochána. May he rest in peace.
Unfortunately the roll of honour gets longer. One life lost is one too many. This Government will continue to support the Garda Síochána in every possible way as it goes about the business of protecting the state and its citizens while safeguarding the welfare of the members of the Garda Síochána to the greatest extent possible.
My thoughts and prayers are with the families of those whom we remember today. We also pray that the members who are on duty as we speak will remain safe as they go about protecting out communities.
Commissioner and members of An Garda Síochána, you are the successors of proud men and women who served their country with honour from the foundations of the state. Through it all, the Garda Síochána remained constant and steadfast so that the people of this country could live peacefully in this democracy. This work endures and despite the many challenges that we face as a country we are still blessed to live in a democracy.
Finally I want to commend those who tend to this memorial. It is important and fitting that there is a very private space in a very public place where the families and the public can pay respect to these brave men.
Thank you very much.