Detective Garda Colm Horkan (13th Dec 1970 – 17th June 2020)
Second and last part of this tribute written by one of his best friends and very close ex-colleague, John Hynes, Roscommon Branch, is brought back to St James’ Church in Charlestown on the morning of Colm Horkan’s funeral where John formed part of the Guard of Honour that stretched from the main gate, through the Church grounds to the main door of the Church. IN MEMORY OF COLM HORKAN
TERRIFIC TEMPLATE FOR OTHER GARDAÍ
If anyone asked me how I would describe Colm Horkan, I would say he was “a template” for how a member of An Garda Síochána should carry out their duties in the course of their career. If one could bottle what he was and how he acted, bring that to Templemore and turn out Gardaí based on that template we would have a terrific Garda Force. He certainly was the epitome of what it is to be a policeman in contemporary society. There is always a certain type of nervousness amongst members of the public when coming into a Garda Station. Colm was the kind of person that if you were coming in off the street and you had a problem, no matter how trivial, his greeting firstly would put you at ease. He’s the person you would want to meet and be guaranteed your problem would be handled with the utmost professionalism. Colm had an infectious smile and he greeted everyone he met with respect. You would know that he was person who was brought up with manners. If he didn’t know your name, he would greet you for example with ‘Can I help you, Sir’. He was a man of the highest integrity and a rock of sense and discretion. The Gardaí have hundreds of powers under Criminal Legislation but the greatest power they have is their power of discretion and Colm had that power in abundance. That’s how he gained friends and intelligence at the same time. You don’t have to prosecute and persecute everyone. A caution is often as good as a fine or a more serious slap on the wrist. He had a calming effect in confrontational situations and more times than not became peacemaker in unpleasant situations. He never rushed into anything and analysed everything before he spoke.
‘LEGACY OF WONDERFUL MEMORIES’
Following Colm’s transfer to Ballaghaderreen in 2008, we continued to work closely together as he was still in the Castlerea District and worked the same unit as I did, and our friendship remained as strong as always. Colm also had a ‘passion for fashion’ and was always impeccably groomed. Tidiness was a trait and he always looked pristine, dressed from head to toe in Tommy Hilfiger or Ralph Lauren brands with perfectly pressed trousers, shiny shoes and gelled hair. On trips to New York, he would spend hours in Jersey Gardens, the home of the biggest Tommy Hilfiger outlet stores in the USA, and never left without making several purchases. At work his turnout was the same – always impeccably dressed, always portraying a positive clean-cut image and being conscious all the time that as a member of An Garda Síochána one is always in the public eye. He was a great family man and this came across very clearly in the eulogy delivered by his brother Brendan at his funeral mass. “He was a rock in our family, the man that was the glue that held it all together. He was kind, considerate, selfless and above all loyal to the core. He leaves a legacy of wonderful memories which we will cherish in our hearts forever as we say goodbye to a ‘Giant’ who brought such joy and happiness to us all for the 49 fantastic and brilliant years he was here”.
KEEPING IN REGULAR CONTACT
Since my retirement in 2014, Colm and I met on a regular basis for a meal or a few drinks. We were in contact via WhatsApp. I spoke to him for the last time just ten days before he was murdered. He would have been celebrating a big birthday on 13 December – his 50th – an occasion a lot of us would certainly be looking forward to but alas that occasion will never happen. He was nearly always the first to send us a Christmas card, which usually arrived around 8 December. He never missed a year. There will be one less Christmas card arriving to our house this year. When we were working together Colm spent a lot of time in our house. He name was regularly mentioned and our three children idolised him. He was like an uncle to them. On hearing of his death, they were heartbroken and so distressed. We all think of Colm’s family and the support they will need in the months and years ahead and I ask everyone reading this to say a prayer for them that the burden of grief and loss will become lighter and lighter for them with the passage of time.
PAYING THE ULTIMATE PRICE
The image of Colm’s dad Marty holding the tricolour tightly in his hands as the coffin of his son was lowered into its final resting place will remain with us all for a very long time. No parent or family member should be placed in such a situation, but as members of An Garda Síochána every member, when they go to work, knows that confrontation is a very real possibility. However, for D/Garda Colm Horkan in the dreadful situation he found himself in on the night of 18 June 2020, he paid the ultimate price giving his life in the course of carrying out his duty to the very end. Like many of my former colleagues I attended a memorial service for Colm in ‘the Hub’, Castlerea the afternoon after his death. Garda chaplain Fr Joe Kennedy spoke for about 15 minutes and I found his words very comforting. He referred to a passage from the Book of Micah in the Bible which states “act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly”. That sums up Colm Horkan for me. Right throughout his career he acted justly. He was very fair with everybody and carried out his duties as he swore he would – “without fear, favour, malice or ill will”.
THE FINAL FAREWELL
He loved tenderly, he really did and we love him back for it and he was a humble man never looking for credit or a pat on the back. The day following Colm’s death a local priest – Fr Vincent Sherlock – sent me a text bearing a lovely message ending with the sentence “May Colm Rest in the Peace he sought to defend”. We extend our deepest sympathies to Colm’s family, to his father Marty, his sister Deirdre and his brothers Aiden, Brendan, Dermot and Padraig and may his gentle and kind soul Rest in Peace forever. So, I say farewell dear friend. You were a ‘Giant’ of a man in every respect and may you now ‘Rest in the Peace you sought to defend’.
IN MEMORY OF COLM HORKAN