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Editor's Viewpoint

Detective Colm Horkan murder a shocking tragedy

Editor's Viewpoint


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Garda Commissioner Drew Harris (centre) arrives at the scene in Castlerea, Co Roscommon, where Detective Garda Colm Horkan died after being shot on Wednesday night

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris (centre) arrives at the scene in Castlerea, Co Roscommon, where Detective Garda Colm Horkan died after being shot on Wednesday night

PA

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris (centre) arrives at the scene in Castlerea, Co Roscommon, where Detective Garda Colm Horkan died after being shot on Wednesday night

The murder of a Garda detective, Colm Horkan, in Co Roscommon has sent shockwaves much further afield across this island. He died after a struggle with an individual who seized his gun and fired 15 shots at the then defenceless officer.

As Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said, it appeared to be a random act, neither connected to organised crime or subversive elements, and that somehow makes the death all the more poignant and pointless. A seemingly chance encounter between the officer and the individual ended in horror without any apparent explanation at this time.

Police officers, no matter where they operate, see their chief role as keeping the rest of us safe whilst knowing that could mean putting themselves at risk.

Garda Colm Horkan was the 89th member of the force to die since its formation in the 1920s. Police officers on this side of the border have paid a much heavier price for their selfless duties, with 302 RUC members being murdered by terrorists between 1969 and 1998 and two members of that force's successor, the PSNI, dying since then.

Fortunately, the gun has largely been taken out of Irish politics on both sides of the border, but there is still a plentiful supply of weaponry in the hands of dissident republicans, loyalist paramilitaries and most worrying of all, organised crime gangs.

These gangs operate right across this island and it is imperative that the PSNI and gardai co-operate fully in the pursuit of the criminals. There has been a hugely improved spirit of co-operation in recent years, in stark contrast to periods during the Troubles. The relationship between the forces probably reached its nadir following the murders of two senior RUC officers returning north after meeting gardai in Dundalk.

The subsequent Smithwick tribunal found that Garda officers had colluded with IRA members in the murders.

In more recent years, there have been exchanges of officers between the forces and the current Garda Commissioner is a former high-ranking RUC officer.

This new spirit of co-operation should make the exchange of intelligence less contentious and certainly it is in everyone's interest that both forces show their determination to clamp down on organised and subversive crimes. Obviously, anyone with any information which could help bring the killer of Garda Horkan to justice should come forward now.

Belfast Telegraph