ONE of Portlaoise’s longest-serving gardaí will say farewell to the force on 27 January.
Sgt Jerry Dillon has been stationed in the town since March 1983 and has spent the past two years as court garda. Warm tributes were paid on the announcement of his retirement, with circuit court Judge Keenan Johnson describing him as “a shining example of what a good garda should do” during his career.
The popular sergeant closed the front door of Portlaoise Courthouse as a garda for the last time last Thursday, when he attended his final sitting of the district court. However, he will open the courthouse door again on 30 January, when he takes up a new role with the Courts Service.
Sgt Dillon received many tributes at his last district court sitting, where Garda Inspector Aidan Farrelly said his colleague had given almost 34 years’ exemplary service to An Garda Síochána.
Wishing him good health and happiness in his retirement, the inspector said: “He continued this exemplary service as court garda, treating everybody with dignity and respect.”
District court judge Catherine Staines thanked Sgt Dillon for his unfailing professionalism and courtesy and wished him every success in his new role. Tributes were also paid by district court clerk Sheila Larkin on behalf of the Courts Service and by solicitor Josephine Fitzpatrick on behalf of her legal colleagues in Laois. Ms Fitzpatrick especially thanked Sgt Dillon for his professionalism and kindness to defendants at times when they were vulnerable.
At the latest sitting of Portlaoise Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Keenan Johnson thanked Sgt Dillon for his exceptional work and said he had always carried out his duties very diligently.
The judge said: “The gardaí have a difficult job to do in the current climate and they come in for a lot of unjustified criticism. I often say that we don’t really realise how grateful we should be towards the gardaí in general for the way that they undertake their duties. It can be said that 99.9% of gardaí carry out their duties in a most professional and fair manner. I think it’s also fair to say that every time a garda goes out on the beat or on duty, they put their lives on the line for the sake of a civilised society. We are very grateful to them and Sgt Dillon in the way he discharged his duties. It was a shining example of what a good garda should do.”
The judge added: “I think it is a new chapter that you are starting in your life and that you won’t be too far from the courthouse in your new position. We are saying goodbye to you in the circuit court but they are saying hello to you in the district court!”
State solicitor Donal Dunne joined in the tributes, commenting that Sgt Dillon combined a very professional manner with a great sense of humour and made life very easy for everyone involved with the courts.