The family of the late Garda Gary McLoughlin said Donegal County Council’s posthumous conferral of the Civic Commemorative Honour on Garda McLoughlin has meant a great deal to them.
Speaking on behalf of his family at an emotional ceremony at County House on Friday, Garda McLoughlin’s older brother, Enda McLoughlin, said the conferral, “assures us all that Gary will never be forgotten by the people of Donegal.”
“We as a family were always very proud of Gary as a Garda officer,” he said. “We are even prouder today.”
Garda McLoughlin lost his life in the line of duty in December 2009, after the patrol car he was driving was struck at Lisfannon, Burt, by an oncoming vehicle travelling at high speed. Garda McLoughlin was 24 years old.
Garda McLoughlin’s parents, Noel and Úna, and family members travelled from Co. Leitrim for the ceremony, which was also attended by Garda McLoughlin’s girlfriend, Shauna Bradley.
“Thank you most sincerely to the people of Donegal for recognising Gary’s loyal and committed Garda service and in bestowing posthumously this very special civic honour on him,” Enda McLoughlin said. He called it, “a day of celebration and a day of remembering, but it is tinged with an understandable sadness that Gary isn’t with us to enjoy the ceremony and the occasion itself.”
The civic commemorative honour is the highest the county council can bestow.
Speaking at the ceremony, Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan said Garda McLoughlin “made a huge impact on the lives of all those who knew him. He made the ultimate sacrifice in seeking to serve the community in Buncrana, and the Irish state. It was a duty to which he was wholeheartedly committed and one which he enjoyed fulfilling every day.”
Also attending were Assistant Garda Commissioner Kieran Kenny, northern region; Chief Superintendent James Sheridan, acting divisional officer for Donegal; Superintendent Kevin English, current district officer Buncrana; Superintendent William Johnstone, superintendent in Buncrana at the time of Garda McLoughlin’s death; Garda McLoughlin’s Buncrana colleagues and other garda representatives.
“It is also obvious that he was immensely popular with his colleagues and with the community he served,” County Manager Seamus Neely said. “It is heartening to see so many of Gary’s closest colleagues and those who deeply loved him here today.”
Representatives of each political grouping on the council also offered a tribute to Garda McLoughlin and condolences to his family.
Fine Gael Cllr. John Ryan, who knew Garda McLoughlin personally, called him “a true gentleman and one of immense resolve and commitment.
“He carried out his duties with honour and dignity and showed no lapse of vigour and determination, which was evident on the night of his untimely death,” he said.
Fianna Fáil Cllr. Ciaran Brogan said that it was important that “every man and woman who puts on that uniform” would be aware “that we are full square with you on that journey.
“We need to send out that strong message,” Cllr. Brogan said.
Sinn Féin Cllr. Jack Murray, who had brought forward the motion calling for a council tribute to Garda McLoughlin, said he would “always remember that someone my age had sacrificed his life while serving my community”. He called the posthumous honour “a very, very fitting tribute and a very emotional day for the family and colleagues of Garda McLoughlin.”
Donegal Mayor, Fine Gael Cllr. Noel McBride, presented Mrs. McLoughlin with a commissioned silver replication of the county badge crafted by Letterkenny designer Geraldine Hannigan that was mounted on a background designed by Fionntan Gogarty.
“Garda Gary McLoughlin lost his life whilst carrying out his duty protecting the citizens of our county and we, in Donegal, wish to acknowledge and honour the service he gave and sacrifice that he made,” the mayor said.
Last year, Martin McDermott from Raphoe was sentenced to seven years for Garda McLoughlin’s manslaughter.
This marked the second time the council has bestowed a posthumous honour on a member of An Garda Siochana. They conferred the honour on the late Garda Robert McCallion in June of 2010.
“I sincerely hope that we do not have to be here in County House in Lifford ever again on an occasion like this,” Mayor McBride said. “I hope everyone using our roads will respect everyone else using our roads.”