By Dan Walsh
Two members of An Garda Siochána who confronted a masked suspect and removed a balaclava from his face during an armed raid on the Bank of Ireland branch in Rosslare Harbour on August 19th 2016 have each been awarded the Bronze Scott Medal.
Garda Barry Hennessy from Wexford Garda Station and Garda Michael Lee, Immigration, Rosslare Habour were special guests in Dublin Castle this morning where the Garda Commissioner Drew Harris awarded 13 Scott Medals for bravery to deceased and serving members of An Garda Siochána.
Speaking at the ceremony Commissioner Harris said; “The most valuable asset to An Garda Siochana is our personnel. It is through their unwavering dedication and hard work that An Garda Siochána is able to keep people safe in communities throughout Ireland.
“The work of all Gardaí is inherently dangerous, complex and can often stretch far beyond our day-to-day duty, but the selfless courage of some stands out.
“The Scott Medal is the highest decoration that can be bestowed upon a member of An Garda Siochána for their exceptional courage and bravery. On this occasion, I am honoured to award the Scott Medal to 13 exemplary Gardaí for their bravery and heroism in service.”
On August 19th 2016, Garda Barry Hennessy and Garda Michael Lee were on uniform mobile patrol in the Wexford district when they responded to a report of a panic alarm activation at the Bank of Ireland, Rosslare Harbour.
On arrival Gardaí Hennesy and Lee met a staff member who advised them that she was unable to gain entry or make contact with the staff inside. Garda Hennessy climbed a wall to access the rear of the building while Garda Lee remained at the front of the premises.
Garda Hennessy managed to see inside through a peephole in a steel door at the rear of the building. He banged the door a number of times and identified himself as a member of An Garda Siochána.
The door opened and three staff members ran from the bank. These staff were visibly scared and were screaming that there was a male inside who was wearing a balaclava, in possession of a handgun, which he had discharged and had been demanding money. Garda Hennessy called for armed assistance and guided the three staff members to safety.
While at the front of the bank, Garda Lee heard the commotion at the rear and saw the three staff members had run from the premises.
Although aware that an armed raider was in the bank, Garda Lee maintained his position at the front door of the bank. A masked man appeared at the front door and pointed his hand at Garda Lee in a shooting gesture. The masked man, carrying a rucksack, ran from the front door of the bank across the road towards the back of a nearby house.
In the knowledge that this male was potentially armed with a handgun, which he had already discharged once and was now running into a residential neighbourhood, Garda Lee ran after him through a gateway into the driveway of a house.
Garda Lee tackled the male suspect and managed to pull the balaclava off his face. The suspect continued to run into the rear garden and attempted to scale a high hedge. Garda Lee tackled him again, pulled him to the ground and restrained him, assisted by Garda Hennessy, who placed handcuffs on the armed male suspect and arrested him.
For exceptional courage and bravery, involving personal risk in the execution of duty, the Bronze Scott Medal is awarded to both officers – Garda Barry Hennessy and Garda Michael Lee.
Subsequently, the armed male suspect was convicted and received a prison sentence for the offences of carrying a firearm with criminal intent, attempted robbery and false imprisonment.