Adrian Donohoe posthumously awarded highest Garda honour
The Garda remained determined to bring the killers of Det Adrian Donohoe to justice and the passage of some 3 and a half years since his murder had not changed that, Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan has said.
She was speaking at the posthumous awarding of the Garda’s gold Scott medal for bravery to the murdered detective, which was accepted by his wife Caroline and young children Amy and Niall.
It is the first time the Scott gold medal has been awarded since 2007.
Detective Joe Ryan, who was on a cash escort with Det Donohoe when they were ambushed in Co Louth on the night of Friday, January 25th 2013, was also awarded the Scott silver medal during the ceremony at the Garda College, Templemore, Co Tipperary.
Commissioner O’Sullivan and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald both said Det Donohoe and Det Ryan had shown outstanding bravery when an armed gang drove a vehicle across the car park exit of Lordship Credit Union in Bellurgan, Cooley Peninsula, Co Louth.
As Det Donohoe stepped from the Garda vehicle, gang members hiding behind a wall ran at them and opened fire, fatally shooting the father of two.
Det Ryan was then held at gunpoint beside the unmarked Garda vehicle by two of the raiders while their accomplices stole cash and other items from credit union staff. The staff had been in their cars waiting for the two detectives to arrive to escort them to a night safe.
Det Donohoe’s citation said he was being awarded the gold medal “for exceptional courage and bravery, involving the loss of life in the execution of duty (and) protecting the lives and property of citizens of the State”.
There have been no arrests or charges since the murder, but Commissioner O’Sullivan has said such investigations were complex and took a long time.
“It is absolutely our determination that the people that murdered Adrian will be brought to justice,” she said.
She was conscious people in the community had vital information and urged them to come forward and share what they knew in confidence, even of the information seemed to them to be of little consequence.
“Investigations are very tedious, they have to be done very meticulously; mistakes cannot be made,” she said when asked about the lack of arrests to date.
“Sometimes the length of time is very frustrating. It’s very frustrating for the colleagues of Adrian, who have to continue that work. But we have to make sure that the evidence is put together in a way that sustains a prosecution.”
Ms Fitzgerald said Det Donohoe’s murder was a very sad reminder of the sacrifices Garda members made for the State.
The work of twelve other Garda members, which included rescuing people from rivers and burning buildings, were marked with three bronze medals and citations for bravery during the ceremony.
“It is also days like today that we reflect on the job of the Garda and the profession that is policing; the courage, the bravery and the professionalism that sets them aside from any other occupation or any other profession,” Commissioner O’Sullivan said.
She urged anyone with information on the murder of Det Donohoe or the suspects to assist the Garda inquiry based in Dundalk station, saying it was often smaller pieces of information that helped complete the “jigsaw” of painstaking criminal inquiries.
Gardaí believe they know the identity of at least four people involved in the robbery and murder. Of those, three are living in the US and one man is still in the North, where the gang was based at the time.