State funeral for murdered policeman Garda Adrian Donohoe

BBC Newsline's Dublin correspondent Shane Harrison reports

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Several thousand people are attending the state funeral for the Irish policeman shot dead during a robbery in County Louth.

Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe, 41, a father of two, was killed at Lordship Credit Union in Bellurgan on Friday.

Irish police officers walked behind his coffin as it was carried into St Joseph's Redemptorist Church, Dundalk.

A priest told mourners it was the only profession in the country "where we ask people to dance a dance with satan".

Father Michael Cusack described the killers as "people of evil intent" who were "prepared to entrap".

Family members brought gifts in memory of Adrian, including a photograph, a GAA jersey, a garda cap and a toy tractor.

Politicians from both sides of the Irish border are attending the funeral, including NI Secretary Theresa Villiers, Justice Minister David Ford and Chief Constable Matt Baggott.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, Irish President Michael D Higgins, (Irish prime minister) Taoiseach Enda Kenny and members of the Irish cabinet are also attending.

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan, who paid tribute to Adrian, said Irish police were committed to bringing the killers to justice.

Det Garda Adrian Donohoe Det Garda Adrian Donohoe was the first member of the force to be shot dead on duty since 1996.

He said no words could express "the great sense of loss and revulsion" felt by everyone at the "cold-blooded murder".

A number of businesses in Dundalk have closed as a mark of respect.

The Irish League of Credit Unions has offered a reward of 50,000 euros (£42,791) for information which might lead to arrests or prosecutions.

Earlier, Father Padraig Murphy, who is officiating at the funeral mass, said the killing had led to "remarkable grief" across Ireland.

"People are bewildered," he said. "There is a mixture of emotion: they're disgusted, they're appalled, they really feel for the family and are willing to do anything they can to show solidarity with them."

In Irish broadcaster RTE's Crimecall programme on Tuesday, it was revealed that the detective should have been in the studio that evening, instead he became the subject of the programme.

Superintendent David Taylor told RTE that the murder was carried out in a "most malicious and callous manner".

But he said there had been "huge support" from across Ireland.

"The PSNI's support and solidarity is of immense help to us," he added.

Det Garda Donohoe was one of two detectives on escort duty when the robbery happened. It is believed that the raiders knew the credit union money was being escorted by police. Detectives said the gunman did not hesitate before shooting him in the head.

His colleague, Det Garda Joe Ryan, was held at gunpoint while the gang stole 4,000 euros (£3,424) before making off. He remains deeply traumatised.

Theresa Villiers and Alan Shatter Secretary of State Theresa Villiers and Ireland's Minister for Justice Alan Shatter at the funeral.

It has also emerged that Garda Donohoe had not been due to be on duty last Friday night, but was filling in for a colleague.

Irish detectives are examining CCTV footage taken from local businesses and the credit union.

They believe that a burnt-out car, stolen a few days before the killing in the fishing village of Clogherhead in Louth, and found near Keady, County Armagh, on Sunday was used by the killers.

It was found in Fews Forest, about 25 miles away from the shooting in County Louth.

The PSNI are carrying out a forensic investigation of the car.

In the RTE Crimecall programme, Supt Taylor said police particularly wanted to know about the whereabouts of the blue car between Tuesday night and Friday. They also want to know if anyone saw it being burned out.

While Irish police have not ruled anything out at this stage, they suspect that a cross-border gang was involved in the robbery and murder, and that gang operates in the north Louth-south Armagh area.

Shotguns

They believe they are close to identifying five members of the gang involved.

More than 100 gardai are involved in the investigation More than 100 gardaí are involved in the investigation

The same gang is suspected to have stolen 62,000 euros (£53,071) from the same credit union a year and a half ago, also using shotguns.

Speaking in the Dail on Tuesday, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said no effort would be spared to bring the killers to court.

"Let me assure everyone here, everyone in his family and in the country that we will do everything possible to bring those who murdered Det Garda Donohoe to justice," he said.

"We cannot rest until we have done so."

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams joined the tributes and appealed for anyone with information to contact either the PSNI or the Garda Siochana.

He said Garda Donohoe's killing provoked memories of Det Jerry McCabe who was murdered by the IRA in 1996.

He again apologised for that and said he was sorry for the pain caused to those who had served the state.

More than 100 gardaí are involved in the investigation into the murder, with officers cancelling leave and coming in on their days off.

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