President Michael D Higgins has expressed his shock at the death of Detective Garda Colm Horkan in Castlerea, Co Roscommon.

President Higgins said the news "has come as a shock to us all".

He expressed his sympathies the family and friends of the garda and said: "An Garda Síochána play a crucial role in our communities and this loss of life damages our society as a whole."

Colm Horkan served with An Garda Síochána since 1995

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar also expressed his sympathies, saying: "Every day our gardaí put themselves on the frontline of crime prevention, on behalf of all of us.

"This requires regular acts of bravery and courage. Sometimes the outcome is tragic and a garda makes the ultimate sacrifice in the course of their duties.

"Our thoughts today are with all those grieving as a result of this tragic incident."

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The detective died in a shooting in Castlerea just before midnight. The incident happened near Castlerea Garda Station on the main street of the town.

The armed detective, who is from Co Mayo, was on duty on his own when he was shot.

He is the 89th garda to die in the line of duty since the force was founded in 1922.

The scene at Castlerea has been closed off

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan expressed his shock and sadness at the shooting.

He said: "I want to express my heartfelt sympathy to the parents and family of the brave garda who died doing his duty serving his community and to the wider family of An Garda Síochána who will be heartbroken.

"Our gardaí work to keep Ireland safe at all times and this is a very difficult day for all of them and their families."

In a statement, Mr Flanagan said: "His heroism and the debt of gratitude which we owe to him and his family will never be forgotten."

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Flanagan said this is a tragedy that should not have happened and it underlines the duties that gardaí undertake for us 24/7.

He said gardaí serve the community in a unique way and there is a strong community connection with An Garda Síochána, a connection that has been highlighted throughout the Covid-19 health crisis.

He said gardaí "are of communities and are part of us".

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This, he said, is a reminder of the work that the gardai undertake for the public, adding that every garda is in a unique position in Irish society and unfortunately, regrettably and sometimes tragically, this puts them into positions of vulnerability, as seen last night.

Garda dies after shooting in Castlerea, Co Roscommon
'The fellow you would bring into the trenches with you'
Watch: Garda Commissioner speaks to media after garda death

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said he is "deeply saddened by the death of my colleague Detective Garda Colm Horkan.

"Colm served the communities he worked in with distinction and pride during his 24 years as a member of An Garda Síochána.

"Today is a terrible reminder of the significant sacrifices, including the ultimate sacrifice, that gardaí make to keep people save."

Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin also expressed his shocked and sadness at the killing of a member of the detective.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, his community and all his colleagues who continue to bravely protect us all from harm every day", he said.

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson for Justice Jim O'Callaghan said: "The brutal killing of a member of An Garda Síochána in the line of duty is appalling.

"This was not just an attack on one individual; it was an attack on civilised society. We need to send out the message loud and clear that we will simply not tolerate this brutal brand of criminality against members of An Garda Síochána."

Sinn Féin Leader Mary Lou McDonald extended her deepest sympathies to the family and colleagues of the garda who died.

"I know that this incident will have caused serious shock and outrage in the local community in Castlerea and the wider region. My thoughts are also with those in the community today," she said.

 Labour Party Leader Alan Kelly said "the news coming from Castlerea this morning is absolutely awful.

"What happened to Detective Horkan is a stark reminder of the fact that members of An Garda Síochána put their lives on the line every single day.

"An attack on any member of An Garda Síochána is an attack on all of us".

The Garda Representative Association President Jim Mulligan issued a statement saying: "Our brave colleague died as result of injuries sustained when he was responding to an incident.

"A native of Co Mayo, Detective Garda Horkan joined An Garda Síochána in 1995, and was an experienced detective greatly respected by colleagues.

"Colm was a gentleman known for his kindness and commitment to helping other people. He died protecting his community and serving his country.

"Our thoughts are with his family and colleagues at this very distressing time."

Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors general secretary Antoinette Cunningham said she was "devastated" to hear about the shooting.

She described it as a sad day for gardaí and expressed her sympathies to the detective's family and colleagues.

She said it is shocking and devastating that a colleague can go to work and not return home to their family.

Ms Cunningham said the detective has paid the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.

Chairperson of the Policing Authority Bob Collins said it is a distinguished role of honour to die in the line of duty, but "not a role of honour that anyone wishes to see extended".

Mr Collins said gardaí are willing to put themselves in the gap of danger so the rest of us can be safe in our homes and safe in our lives.

He added that one particular aspect of life in Ireland is the closeness of the relationship between gardaí and communities, which has been revealed in a very particular way during the current health emergency.

He added it is a testament to the fact that policing carries an implicit risk and gardaí put themselves at risk in a way that the rest of us are not called to do.

Local Independent TD Denis Naughten said he was shocked and saddened to hear of the garda's death.

He said: "This is devastating news for his family, the dedicated team of gardaí in Castlerea and the community.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time."

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, he said it is "a huge blow to the force, the community and the garda's family".

He said the garda unit in Castlerea is a "close-knit garda force" where everyone knows everyone.

MEP Luke 'Ming' Flanagan, a former TD and councillor in the area, said people were "stunned by the news".

Sinn Féin TD for Roscommon/Galway Claire Kerrane has said: "This is a truly terrible incident and has caused major shock amongst the entire community in Castlerea and the wider region.

"My thoughts are with the garda's family and colleagues at this very difficult time. I hope that whoever is responsible is speedily brought to justice."

PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne has expressed his sympathies on the "awful news" and said his thoughts were with the garda's family, friends and colleagues.

The Very Reverend Father John McManus was at the scene in Castlerea last night.

Speaking on Morning Ireland, he said he was called to the scene close to midnight and administered the last rites to the garda.

Fr McManus said gardaí in Castlerea were "deeply shocked and saddened" by what happened.

He said his thoughts and prayers are with the garda's family and colleages in Castlerea and gardaí everywhere.

He said it is another tragedy that has struck this town 40 years after the deaths of two gardaí, Henry Byrne and John Morley.