A packed Kinsale Yacht Club heard the Garda Commissioner promise additional staff for Cork West as Chief Supt Hayes bade farewell to the division after almost 40 dedicated years, reports Siobhán Cronin
CORK West garda division is to get extra gardai in the coming weeks, the Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan told The Southern Star at a recent function in Kinsale.
Comm O’Sullivan said she ‘couldn’t put figures’ on the resources, but they would be coming on stream soon. She was speaking at the retirement function for outgoing Chief Supt Tom Hayes, who retires from the Force this week.
‘We will miss the questions, questions and more questions,’ said Sgt Niall Crowley of Bandon Garda Station, as he began one of many light-hearted tributes to his retiring boss, in Kinsale last Friday.
The outgoing chief of the Cork West division was hosting a fundraising coffee morning for the RNLI and Marymount Hospice at Kinsale Yacht Club, to mark his almost 40 years’ career.
Sgt Crowley, described as the chief’s ‘right hand man’ in Bandon, said the Chief Supt was ‘famous for his questions’ but the welfare of his staff and the security of the people of West Cork were always his top priority.
Det Chief Supt Michael O’Sullivan, on behalf of the Chiefs Association, of which Chief Supt Hayes is current president and chairman, made a presentation and noted that in negotiations, Chief Supt Hayes ‘doesn’t give up’.
Tony Fitzgerald of the Knocknaheeny Youth Project made a presentation on behalf of the people of Gurranabraher and surrounding areas, to thank the chief for his work with the project during his time at that garda station, some years ago.
Gda Aoife Hayes, the chief’s daughter, spoke of her father’s great love of sport and the great friendships he had forged as a result with other members of the force.
She said she asked him recently if the famous Garda basketball team was still operating. ‘It’s still going,’ he told her, adding: ‘But we don’t play basketball any more!’
She said a colleague’s descripton of attending crime conferences chaired by her father, reminded her of the inquisitions of her own teenage years. ‘He would ask you questions when you came home, and you knew that he knew the answers already,’ she said.
She said her own mother Mary was also ‘retiring’ from the force, reflecting the huge commitment she had given over the years, when the chief worked late nights or had to travel for cases.
‘He often said he was proud of us but I want to say we are very proud of him today, too,’ added the garda, who is based at the Bridewell station in Cork.
Supt Liam Horgan, on behalf of the gardai of Cork West, said the Chief Supt had led the division ‘through difficult and interesting times’ in the past six years.
‘He is a single minded man, but always willing to listen,’ he said, but joked: ‘We had some frank exchanges, but we always ended up doing it his way anyway!’
But he thanked him for never interfering in the running of the districts. ‘But if he had to, he did it in a pleasant way,’ he said.
Comm O’Sullivan, a long-time friend of Chief Supt Hayes’, noted former Commissioner Fachtna Murphy was also in attendance, in the packed-to-capacity yacht club.
She spoke of the extended Garda ‘family’ and how important it is for the members of the force to support each other in their work. ‘Most of us spend more of our lives in An Garda Siochana than outside it,’ she said. ‘And you are never not a member.’
She referred to the many retired members of the force who had turned out to pay tribute to Chief Supt Hayes and she pointed out, looking at Chief Supt Hayes, that there was now a facility for retired members to join the Garda Reserves should they wish to continue their work!
She said Chief Supt Hayes was a formidable colleague at meetings, when he always had ‘probing questions’ to contribute. She announced that she would be ‘sending extra gardai to Cork West’ in the coming weeks, adding: ‘I don’t think Tom would have gone unless we did.’
‘Tom epitomises everything you want to see in a garda today. There were lots of questions, but he always had empathy for people too.’
She also referred to his prowess on the dancefloor at divisional dinner dances and thanked his family and in particular his wife Mary, for their support down the years for the force.
Margaret Harrington made a presentation to Mary Hayes on behalf of the staff in Bandon Garda Station.
Chief Supt Hayes said he had chosen Marymount as a beneficiary of the fundraiser as many members of the force and their families had been touched by cancer and a number of them were also fundraisers for the facility, which the Hayes family live near. in Bishopstown.
He also chose Union Hall RNLI as he was very grateful to them for the support, and the support that the whole community in that area gave him and his family, when his brother Michael was lost in the Tit Bonhomme tragedy in 2012.
He thanked Comm O’Sullivan for coming to West Cork for the function, and also former Comm Fachtna O’Sullivan whom, he said, had once told him to ‘look after West Cork’.
‘Cork West is one of the best performing divisions in the country,’ he said, ‘and the results compare very favourably with any other area.’
He thanked all his staff for their support down the years, especially in Bandon Garda Station and noted that Sgt Crowley, having been promoted to the rank of inspector, will shortly be moving to Killarney, and wished him well.
He also thanked all the voluntary bodies he had worked with, and the local media, including The Southern Star, for their support of the work of An Garda Siochana.
He also thanked his family – and especially his wife Mary – for their support over the years. ‘She dropped me at the gate of Templemore and more or less said if I didn’t do well, she wouldn’t be back!’
He remembered his former roommate from those days, Gda Frank Hand, who was murdered by the IRA in 1984, and former colleague, the late Martin Dorney (Kanturk) and also the crew of the Tit Bonhomme who had perished with his brother Michael.
‘This is a challenging time in the history of the organization, and I regret I will not be here to see the renewal of the gardai, but I know the plan will be a success,’ he said.