FOURTEEN gardai were murdered in the line of duty during my 34 years service in An Garda Siochana.
That's why it made me sick to my stomach to read this week of the recent, below-the-radar release of garda killers Colm O'Shea and Patrick McCann.
The news brought back sad memories of my tragic colleagues.
The Provisional IRA were responsible for ten of these killings. I was personally involved in the investigation into six of these murders.
These included Garda Richard Fallon's murder by Saor Eire in 1970.
To this day I have never witnessed such outpouring of grief and anger at a funeral.
Five years later, Garda Michael Reynolds was gunned down in Raheny.
I remember being at the Special Criminal Court on the night his killers, Noel and Marie Murray, were sentenced to be executed by hanging. The Supreme Court later commuted their capital murder charge to one of common law murder. They have since been freed.
In October 1976, Garda Mick Clerkin was blown up by an IRA bomb in Co Laois.
Four years later, Garda John Morley and Garda Henry Byrne were shot dead by republican bank raiders Colm O'Shea and Patrick McCann in Roscommon.
The pair were sentenced to death. This was later commuted to 40 years without parole.
But a Supreme Court ruling from last July saw remission applied to capital murder sentences, and so they were freed.
This is a disgrace. There's a reason why capital murder exists as an offence distinct from 'ordinary' murder – murdering a police officer is seen as an attack on the very foundations of our State.
Granting remission to those convicted of capital murders makes a nonsense of the conviction of capital murder.
And all this not an issue of historical cases from decades ago. It is very timely.
If and when the murderer of Det Garda Adrian Donohoe, gunned down this year, is caught, how long will this garda killer serve?
Even if he is convicted of Gda Donohoe's capital murder we must now assume that, with remission, he won't serve his full sentence.
Ask yourself: as a law-abiding citizen are you happy with this?