Garda Quaid remembered at new HQ opening
The Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan, officially opened Wexford Garda Station on Wednesday before a large gathering of invited guests composed of Garda members, elected representatives and those involved with constructing the state-of-the-art building.
A special acknowledgement was given to the late Garda Seamus Quaid who was murdered in the line of duty at Ballyconnick Quarry on October 13, 1980, and those present were informed that 88 Gardai have been killed in the line of duty since the policing organisation was founded. Members of Garda Quaid's family were in attendance at the opening.
The proceedings began with a formal blessing ceremony which was celebrated by Garda Chaplains, Fr Joe Kennedy and Fr David Pierpoint, along with Fr Aodhán Marken and Canon Arthur Minion.
Superintendent Jim Doyle acted as MC and having welcomed everyone to the event he outlined the significance of the day for the community across the town and county.
He acknowledged the retired Gardai who were in attendance and paid tribute to retired Chief Superintendent John Roche for his role in bringing about the development of the new station.
Supt Doyle focused attention on the fact the new building has state-of-the-art immigration facilities and custody section in addition to a welcoming public reception area.
'The previous station served the people well for eight decades but it was a far cry from this,' said Supt Doyle.
In acknowledging Garda Quaid, Supt Doyle highlighted that the Limerick born Garda was also an All-Ireland winning hurler for Wexford and played with the Faythe Harriers club.
'We have a plaque honouring him inside the new building and there is a portrait of Seamus in the local GAA headquarters as well,' said Supt Doyle.
Referring to the significance of the occasion he commented: 'I am very proud to be the District Officer for Wexford at this time.'
Acting Garda Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin also spoke and echoed the sentiments of Supt Doyle in terms of the importance of the occasion for policing in County Wexford and he too acknowledged the role played by Retired Chief Supt John Roche.
'He worked very hard to ensure this fine facility would become a reality,' he said.
Commissioner Ó Cualáin praised the people who contributed behind the scenes to ensure the new station would be realised including Sean Murphy from the Garda Estate Management Section and the OPW.
He said the station will help the Gardai deliver a service befitting a modern police force and befitting the people of Wexford.
'Here we have one of the first examples of how policing in a new Ireland will be,' said Commissioner Ó Cualáin.
He said the importance of having a close relationship between Gardai and the community was exemplified by the opening of the new station.
In his address the Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan also acknowledged the family of Garda Quaid and praised the Garda Band for its performance at the ceremony and in particular its version of 'Bless This House' which he said was very appropriate.
'This new headquarters is transforming the job of policing in Wexford and the surrounding areas,' said Minister Flanagan.
'It's my second time in Wexford this year,' he added, referring to the opening of the new courthouse in February.
He acknowledged the role played by Deputy Brendan Howlin and Ministers Paul Kehoe and Michael D'Arcy in getting the station developed.
Minister Flanagan said Wexford is an immigration hub that deals with 'a huge number of applications on a daily basis' and said the new station affords people privacy in their dealings with staff members.
He thanked Commissioner Ó Cualáin for the important role he has played in leading the Gardaí as a force and he wished him well in his retirement - which will begin next month; the role of Garda Commissioner will be taken over by the Deputy Chief Constable of the PSNI, Drew Harris.
'This is a time of reform when we can do things better and more vigorously,' said Minister Flanagan, before declaring the Garda Station officially opened.
A light-hearted moment in the proceedings came towards the end when Minister Flanagan mentioned his first encounter with Supt Doyle.
He was a young solicitor at the time and Supt Doyle, then a young Garda, was giving evidence in his first court case which was a Section 49 drink driving matter.
Minister Flanagan, who was the defence solicitor in the case, refrained from revealing the outcome of the matter but perhaps it was telling that as Supt Doyle brought the ceremony to a close he referred to the Minister's comments and said: 'You were much nicer to me today than you were in cross examination in court that day over 30 years ago'.
Following the raising of the tri-colour and the playing of the national anthem the ribbon was cut on the station and those in attendance were invited inside to view the station and avail of refreshments.