Gary Sheehan (24 September 1960 – 16 December 1983) was an Irish Garda Síochána officer who was killed in an exchange of gun fire with the Provisional Irish Republican Army during a hostage rescue operation in Ireland in 1983.
A native of Carrickmacross, in County Monaghan, Sheehan had worked as a technician before joining the Garda Síochána in September 1983, being given the Service #23589L. Both his father and grandfather had also been police officers. He was also a member of the Carrick Emmets Gaelic Football team.
Sheehan was a still a probation police officer three months into his service and in training at the Garda College at Templemore when he was deployed in a joint police and Irish Defence Forces search for Mr. Don Tidey, the Director of a supermarket chain, who had been kidnapped in the southern outskirts of Dublin for ransom by the Provisional IRA to raise finance for its paramilitary activities.
A nationwide manhunt of 4 weeks gained intelligence information which narrowed the search to the area about Ballinamore in County Leitrim. In the afternoon of 16 December 1983, Sheehan and Private Kelly, a soldier in the Irish Army, were part of a joint forces team searching with dogs through Drumcromin Wood, at Derrada, near Ballinamore, when they found the IRA kidnap gang's hideout location, and were shot dead (Sheehan being hit in the head) in an intense exchange of small arms fire with it, during which hand-grenades were also thrown. Mr. Tidey was subsequently found nearby and rescued, the IRA gang fleeing the scene, managing to escape, shooting and wounding another Garda officer in the process.
The body of Recruit Garda Sheehan was buried at Carrickmacross cemetery, he was 23 years of age.
Though the IRA paramilitary Brendan McFarlane is believed by Garda sources to have led the kidnap gang, no one has been charged with the murders. McFarlane was prosecuted for the kidnapping at Dublin's Special Criminal Court in 2008, but the case collapsed, with McFarlane being awarded legal costs and damages.
- Entry for Gary Sheehan's service, Garda Siochana website (2017). http://www.garda.ie/Controller.aspx?Page=5302
- 'Don't be dead heroes', 'Independent, Ireland,' 15 June 2008. https://www.independent.ie/irish-news-dont-be-dead-heroes-ira-gang-told-gardai-soldiers-26454113.html
- RTE One website, Programme 5, 'Garda Recruit Sheehan', 16 February 2009. http://www.rte.ie/tv/gardaarlar/09prog5.html
- 'Shockwaves of Don Tidey's kidnap still felt 12 months on', 'Independent, Ireland', 27 December 2014. https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/shockwaves-of-don-tidey-kidnap-still-felt-12-months-on30864488.html
- Michael Clerkin, killed by the Provisional I.R.A in 1976.
- Denis O'Brien (police officer), killed by the IRA in 1942.
- Richard Fallon (policeman), killed by republicans in 1970
- Michael J. Reynolds, killed by republicans, 1975
- John Francis Morley and Henry Byrne, killed by the INLA, 1980
- Death of Jerry McCabe, killed by the Provisional IRA, 1996