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Brother and sister see hero garda swept away in Liffey

THE brother and sister of a tragic young garda witnessed him being swept away in floods near Blessington.

The body of tragic Garda Ciaran Jones was discovered at around 9am yesterday at Ballyward Bridge close to where the young officer went missing.

Colleagues and soldiers searched through the night for off-duty Garda Jones (25) who had been attempting to divert traffic away from a dangerous bridge.

The tragedy occurred in the Wicklow Mountains at Ballysmuttan Bridge over the River Liffey between Manor Kilbride and Kippure at around 7pm at the height of the torrential rainfall.

Popular Garda Jones -- from the village of Manor Kilbride -- was based at Stepaside Station in south Dublin for the past four years.

Fast

Supt Eamon Keogh of Baltinglass Garda Station, who led the rescue operation said Garda Jones was doing his civic duty.

The parents of talented sportsman Garda Jones were understood to have been out of the country on holiday at the time of the incident.

Supt Keogh said that the garda, his brother and a friend were "trying to stop traffic" at the bridge yesterday.

"He was trying to help motorists in the area at the time. He went over the bridge to stop a car and he got swept away," Supt Keogh said.

The shocking incident was witnessed by six people including Garda Keogh's brother and sister. Supt Keogh described the River Liffey at the time "as extremely fast and very high."

After the incident a major search was conducted by the emergency services from 8pm to 1am.

It restarted this morning and involved the gardai, army, local people and the Glen of Imaal Mountain Rescue team. Garda Jones was a well respected officer who played with distinction for his local GAA club at Manor Kilbride and the Wicklow senior football team.

In an interview with the Herald today, Pat Mitchell of Wicklow GAA described Garda Jones as "an outstanding footballer and a thorough gentleman".

He played as a corner forward and represented Wickow at minor, U-21 and senior level. County board chairman Michael O'Hagan explained: "I am very shocked about last night's incident.

"This young man was involved with all our teams -- he was very dedicated to his club and county.

"Ciaran was a very dedicated and inoffensive young man and was a regular umpire at our games across the county."

The bridge, which was newly reconstructed in recent years, had previously been damaged in heavy floods.

"He was seen for a few moments by friends and then he wasn't seen again," Supt Eamon Keogh said.