An Irish police detective  was shot dead after an attempted robbery near Dundalk, County Louth. a few miles from the Irish border on Friday night in a crime that has shocked the nation. It is 1996 since such a similar killing took place.

He was named as Detective Garda Adrian Donohue who was on escort duty for a large consignment of money leaving a local credit union to be placed in a bank. He was married with three children. His wife and brother are also in the Irish police force known as the Gardai.

He died after a botched robbery attempt when four armed men attempted to hijack the van containing the money. Detective Donohoe approached the men, shots were fired and Detective Donohue was hit in the head. He died of his wounds.

A massive police manhunt has followed.

A police statement read “The incident occurred outside the Lordship Credit Union at Bellurgan, Jenkinstown, Dundalk, Co Louth.

“A number of shots were fired during the incident resulting in the serious injury of a detective Garda attached to Dundalk Garda Station,” it said.

“A dark coloured car left the scene in the direction of Dundalk. At this stage we believe four people were in this car.”

President Michael D. Higgins said the killing was "a dreadful crime and all Irish people will be truly appalled by it."

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan said: "I am deeply saddened to hear of the death of my colleague Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe.

"Detective Garda Donohoe died as a result of injuries sustained in the course of his duty following a shooting incident in Dundalk.

"At this time my thoughts and prayers and those of the entire force are with the family, friends and close colleagues of Adrian."

Local Sinn Fein councillor Jim Loughran described him as a quiet, decent family man.

"I just spoke to him last week on the street in town. I can't believe this has happened," he said.

Eighty-three Irish police have died in the line of duty since the force was formed in 1922, the vast majority during the early years and during the Northern troubles. Deaths in recent years have been extremely rare. Not since the murder of Garda Jerry McCabe in 1996 in Limerick by an IRA gang has a garda been shot while protecting a bank transfer.