A murder investigation has been launched after an Irish police detective was shot dead last night.
Detective Garda Colm Horkan, who had served with the force for 24 years, was killed in an incident in the small town of Castlerea, 125 kilometres north-west of Dublin, just before midnight.
A man in his 40s has been arrested and is being held at Castlerea Garda Station.
The detective is believed to have been shot with his own weapon after intervening in a scuffle on the street close to the station as he was returning.
Detective Horkan was from Charlestown in Co Mayo and is survived by his father, sister and four brothers, the Garda Representative Association said.
Police have closed the centre of Castlerea to traffic as investigations continue.
Detective Garda Horkan is the 89th member of the force to be killed in the line of duty.
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris paid tribute to the officer.
He said: ‘I am deeply saddened by the death of my colleague Detective Garda Colm Horkan.’
‘My thoughts, and the thoughts of all personnel in An Garda Síochána, are with the family, friends and colleagues of Detective Garda Colm Horkan at Castlerea Garda Station and the Detective Unit he served in.
‘Colm served the communities he worked in with distinction and pride during his 24 years as a member of An Garda Siochana.’
He added: ‘Today is a terrible reminder of the significant sacrifices, including the ultimate sacrifice, that Gardai make to keep people save.
‘I want to thank the local community in Castlerea and the country as a whole for the support they have shown to An Garda Siochana and individual Gardai, even in the short time since the incident.
‘The fatal shooting of Detective Garda Colm Horkan remains under investigation.’
The commissioner urged anyone with information or witnesses to come forward.
Irish President Michael D Higgins said: ‘The death of a Garda detective on duty in Castlerea has come as a shock to us all.
‘As President of Ireland I wish to express my deepest sympathy to the family and friends of the Garda, and to all those who have been affected by this tragedy.
‘An Garda Siochana play a crucial role in our communities and this loss of life is traumatic for our society as a whole.
‘I have contacted the Garda Commissioner to express my deepest sympathies on this terrible loss of a member of the force.’
Irish Premier Leo Varadkar also extended his deepest sympathies to the officer’s family and friends.
He said: ‘Every day our gardai put themselves on the front line of crime prevention, on behalf of all of us.
‘This requires regular acts of bravery and courage. Sometimes the outcome is tragic and a garda makes the ultimate sacrifice in the course of their duties.
‘Our thoughts today are with all those grieving as a result of this tragic incident.’
Ireland’s justice minister, Charlie Flanagan, added: ‘I am deeply shocked and saddened at the shooting of a Garda member in Roscommon last night and a full murder investigation is under way.
‘The brave detective garda who died last night died in the line of duty, serving and protecting the community.
‘His death will cause untold heartbreak to his family, loved ones and all his colleagues in An Garda Siochana across the whole country.
‘It is also a loss to wider Irish society. His heroism and the debt of gratitude which we owe to him and his family will never be forgotten.
‘The women and men of An Garda Siochana serve the whole community and work to keep Ireland safe.
‘In their everyday duty, they put the welfare of others ahead of themselves, as they work to shield us from harm and to connect our communities.
‘It is to them that we turn in times of crisis, including during the current pandemic. All throughout this period, gardai have been selflessly working to protect our health and wellbeing, in the best tradition of the service.’
In 1980, two members of the Garda were shot dead near Castlerea in the village of Loughglynn.
Detective Garda John Morley and Garda Henry Byrne were killed by armed bank robbers.
Roscommon-Galway TD Denis Naughten said the community was in shock.
‘We are absolutely devastated, shocked and saddened by what we heard overnight,’ he said.
‘A member of An Garda Siochana doing his job protecting the community has lost his life in such very tragic circumstances.
‘This is devastating news for his family and the gardai in the Castlerea district and for the local community, and our thoughts and prayers are with Colm’s family at this time.’
Mr Naughten said the memories of the shooting of the two gardai in 1980 had been evoked by the murder.
‘It’s just coming up on their 40th anniversary so that will add to the sense of loss within the community over the coming days,’ he said.