Check Against Delivery


Statement by Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan TD

on the death of Detective Garda Colm Horkan

24 June 2020


There has been a national outpouring of shock and grief, in the days since the terrible loss of Detective Garda Colm Horkan, who gave his life serving the State and protecting the community.  We have come to learn of the man, so beloved of his family, his community and his Garda colleagues. 


Ceann Comhairle,


As Minister for Justice and Equality, I convey again my deepest condolences to Colm’s father Marty; to his sister and fellow public servant Deirdre, his brothers Aidan, Brendan, Dermot and Padraig; to his wider family and friends; and to all the women and men of An Garda Síochána who are heartbroken by his loss. 


Detective Horkan served with distinction for 24 years as a Garda member.  He was a proud Mayo man and a talented stalwart of his local GAA club, Charlestown Sarsfields, since his earliest days playing there as a boy.


We have all heard his colleagues and friends describe him as a man of the highest integrity, a peacemaker, a rock of sense and discretion who loved his job as a Garda. Throughout his exemplary service, he embodied that grassroots ethos shared by the GAA and the Gardaí – commitment to family, community and country. As the Garda Commissioner said this week, he epitomised what all Garda members should strive to be. 


Detective Horkan’s death is an all-too-painful reminder of the personal risks that Garda members take, while working to keep us safe.  The women and men of An Garda Síochána, in their everyday duty, put the welfare of others ahead of themselves, as they work to shield us from harm and to connect our communities.  While grounded in our communities, they courageously take on the burden of standing between us and danger.  It is to them that we turn in times of crisis, including during the current pandemic. 


Each of the 89 men on the Garda Roll of Honour died in the service of the State and for the people of Ireland. 


That is a debt that we can never fully repay, but it is one we will remember.


When Colm Horkan passed out from Templemore in September 1995, his classmates included Detective Garda Adrian Donohue, who was murdered while on duty in January 2013.  Also passing out that day were Garda Eoin Fitzgerald and Garda Ambrose Fogarty, killed while on duty in separate road traffic collisions in 1998 and 1999.  And I know that Colm’s death has reignited painful memories for the tightknit community of Castlerea of the killing of Detective Garda John Morely and Garda Henry Byrne, just miles away in Ballaghadereen 40 years ago. 


We remember them all today too, as we reflect on Colm’s tragic loss.


The families of our Gardaí live daily with those burdens and worry.  And my thoughts over the last 7 days have been with all Garda families, those who heard the news last Thursday morning with fear and emotion, those whose hearts have broken in solidarity with the Horkan family in their loss.  This tragic senseless loss increases the burden and worry for all the families and loved ones of our Gardaí.  We pay tribute to all of you for your support and sacrifice. 


I know that our statements today cannot ease the pain the Horkan family is feeling for their fallen son, brother, cousin and uncle.  But I hope they can take some comfort in the obvious respect and admiration for Colm that we saw in Charlestown on Sunday; and in the way that the whole country united with An Garda Síochána, with communities everywhere standing in silent tribute with their local Gardaí, to honour Colm as he was laid to rest.


Detective Garda Colm Horkan lost his life doing a job that he loved, protecting and serving the community he loved.  He represented the very best of An Garda Síochána and the best of us. We grieve for him and will remember his brave life, ended far too soon.   May he rest in peace. 


Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.