20 May 2014
Address by the Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD at the Annual Garda Memorial Day
"Commissioner, members of An Garda Síochána, serving and retired, Distinguished Guests, ladies and gentlemen,
"At the going down of the sun
And in the morning
We will remember them…"
The words were written about soldiers who died in the first world war, but they echo and will always echo in the minds of our special guests here today. They are the people who lost someone they loved while the member was on duty.
Every family of every serving member of An Garda Síochána recognises the possibility of their dying on duty. But the possibility goes away. It fades in the routine of busy lives. Until it happens. Thereafter, it never goes away. At the going down of the sun, every day, their families remember. And in the morning…
The memories are wrapped around with pride. Pride in an member’s devotion, in their courage, in the knowledge of what they contributed to the safety of the community.
Pride and grief are partners in a vital task invested in families who mourn the loss of a member of An Garda Síochána. The task is to make sure they are not lost. As long as we talk about those who have died, as long as we create for others the reality of what they were, what they stood for, what they died for, then they will never be lost to us.
That is why today’s event is so important. It is an opportunity for us to stand with the families of the fallen and register, by our presence, by our stillness on this Spring day, that the members who fell, mattered and continue to matter.
That’s why this location is so important and why the work of those who tend to it should be acknowledged. They make of this garden a place of pilgrimage, of reverence and of memory.
We talk a great deal about change, these days.
Today offers a chance to talk about what stays the same.
What stays the same is the commitment of Gardaí to the protection of the state, and their openness to constant improvement in the performance of their duty.
What stays the same are the challenges to courage and commitment presented to serving Gardaí every day of their lives.
What stays the same is this Government’s view of An Garda Síochána as central to Irish life, and its determination to ensure that our police service meets and exceeds the highest international standards.
In the coming months, we will be seeing change and improvement across every facet of Garda operations and at every level in that organisation. They will be busy and demanding months where the urgent, the immediate and the important take precedence.
But today is a moment of quiet, where we stand warmed by memories, stilled by reverence for the courage and commitment of Gardaí who laid down their lives for us all, and in the process, left their families with a grief that never goes.
We remember them with deep sadness, profound respect and enormous pride."