Retired Mayo garda officer awarded silver Scott Medal for bravery
Retired Deputy Garda Commissioner Walter 'Nacie' Rice has been presented with a silver Scott Medal for bravery by An Garda Siochana for his role in the rescue of kidnapped businessman Don Tidey in 1983.
Mr. Rice, a native of Moneen, Castlebar, was presented with his prestigious medal by Justice Minister Heather Humphreys and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris at a ceremony at the Memorial Garden, Dublin Castle.
Speaking to the media afterwards, he recalled how IRA gunmen opened fire on him after the dramatic rescue.
Mr. Rice, serving as a detective sergeant in 1983, revealed he was 'terrified' but 'a stubbornness' kicked in when he got caught up in one of most notorious incidents on the Troubles.
On November 24, 1983, Mr. Don Tidey, a prominent businessperson, was taking his young daughter to school when he was abducted in Rathfarnham, Co. Dublin, by armed members of the IRA posing as members of An Garda Síochána.
An Garda Síochána launched a major operation for the purpose of attempting to locate Mr. Tidey and to identify those involved in his abduction.
In the course of the following days, a nationwide search for Mr. Tidey led to the locating in Co. Kildare of vehicles utilised in his abduction and the arrest of suspects in Tralee, Co. Kerry.
On December 14, 1983, the focus of the nationwide search for Mr. Tidey switched to Co. Leitrim and involved participation by a large contingent of members of An Garda Síochána, including Garda recruits who had recently joined An Garda Síochána, but had not yet completed their training at the Garda Training Centre in Templemore, Co. Tipperary.
On December 16, 1983, when Mr. Tidey was in his 23rd day of captivity and upon receipt of confidential information, members of An Garda Síochána were joined by Irish Army personnel assigned to the 58th battalion, based in Finner Camp, Co. Donegal, in undertaking a search of a wooded area located at Ballinamore, Co Leitrim.
Detective Sergeant Walter Ignatius Rice was involved in the search to locate Mr. Tidey.
Upon hearing an urgent call for assistance, Detective Sergeant Rice rushed to the location, accompanied by other members of An Garda Síochána.
Despite the active shooting and in full knowledge of the potential danger, Detective Sergeant Rice exited his vehicle and crept forward using a low ditch as cover.
Detective Sergeant Rice subsequently observed Mr. Tidey, accompanied by Garda Smith and Garda O’Connor.
Detective Sergeant Rice provided armed cover and protection for Mr. Tidey whilst waiting for transport to escort him from the area to safety.
Whilst providing cover for Mr. Tidey, a vehicle approached their position at high speed.
A number of occupants on board were discharging firearms.
Despite the barrage of heavy gunfire from the vehicle, Detective Sergeant Rice broke cover and returned fire on the vehicle from his official issue revolver.
Detective Sergeant Rice then helped wounded Detective Garda Daniel Kelleher to safety.
Detective Sergeant Rice recovered Detective Garda Kelleher’s UZI Submachine gun, and after leaving his revolver with another colleague for their protection, Detective Sergeant Rice followed the direction of the vehicle.
On arrival at the location of the vehicle, Detective Sergeant Rice, despite the knowledge that this vehicle had just recently been involved in a shooting at him and his colleagues, approached the vehicle to ensure no armed suspects remained.
In doing so, he observed a rifle in the boot of the vehicle.
Detective Sergeant Rice then, with a number of colleagues, assisted in clearing the heavily wooded area, including the hide and tent used by the suspects to hold Mr. Tidey.
Subsequently, three people were convicted relating to criminal charges arising from their involvement in the abduction of Mr. Tidey.
For exceptional courage and bravery involving personal risk to life in the execution of his duty, the silver Scott Medal was awarded to former Deputy Commissioner Rice.