Garda gunned down by dissident republican as he escorted woman home


A police officer was murdered in Ireland as he escorted a woman to her home after she made a complaint of domestic abuse.

Garda Tony Golden had travelled with the woman to a house she had shared with dissident republican Adrian Crevan Mackin in the Co Louth village of Omeath when he was shot dead.

The woman, in her early 20s and believed to be the gunman's partner, was also shot a number of times and is said to be in a critical condition in hospital.

The dead officer's commander, Superintendent Gerry Curley, revealed he had taken a written statement from the woman on Sunday afternoon in the local station and then travelled with her and her father to the terraced house where they were gunned down.

The seriously-injured woman's father was waiting outside the house when Mackin opened fire.

"Gunshots were heard in the house," Supt Curley said. "Her father immediately raised the alarm and the gardai were contacted on 999."

Gardai said the woman had made an appointment to make a formal complaint about domestic violence on Sunday before arranging to collect belongings from the house in the Mulach Alainn estate.

Mackin, believed to be from Newry originally, was inside.

The couple are understood to have been together for several years since the woman finished school four years ago and had two children, both under the age of four.

The gunman shot Garda Golden a number of times before killing himself. Gardai said a gun was recovered from the property.

Garda Golden was 36 and a married father of two daughters and one son, all under the age of eight.

He was originally from Ballina, Co Mayo, and had been stationed in Cabinteely, south Dublin, before a transfer to Omeath - a rural area a few miles from the border with Northern Ireland.

Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan was in Dundalk to meet the lead investigators and Garda Golden's widow Nicola in the family home in the Blackrock area of town. She also inspected the crime scene.

The killer had been on bail awaiting trial for IRA membership.

He was due before the Special Criminal Court in Dublin after being arrested and charged at the start of the year following a joint Garda-Police Service of Northern Ireland operation to target dissident republicans in the border area.

Forensic examinations took place at the house where the front door had been damaged and partly covered with an evidence bag. Door-to-door inquiries were also conducted in the estate.

Garda Golden is the 88th member of the force to be killed in the line of duty and will be entitled to a State funeral.

His murder occurred in the same region of Louth where Detective Adrian Donohoe was shot dead on January 25 2013 as armed robbers held up the credit union in the village of Lordship on the Cooley peninsula.

Tributes to the murdered officer were led by President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

"This most serious and tragic incident has not only led to the death of a member of An Garda Siochana, while on duty, but tragically has also involved the death of one and the serious injury of another person," President Higgins said.

"I want to express my deepest sympathy to the family and friends of the garda who has so tragically lost his life while responding to this incident. My thoughts at this time are also with all others who have been affected by the events in Omeath."

The Taoiseach said the murder was tragic and unfortunate, and it showed how gardai went to work when "the unknown quantity is always out there".

Joan Burton, Ireland's Tanaiste, said: "This has been a tragic and dark weekend. When such events occur, they put much of our daily news and concerns in perspective."

Commissioner O'Sullivan said: "Tony was very respected and held in very high esteem. He lived in the community, he worked in the community and he served the community. He served it with dignity, with pride and with distinction.

"He was very proud family man and his wife Nicola, the loss is unthinkable for her, his parents and the extended family. Our heartfelt support and sympathy goes out to them."

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said she was appalled by the loss of life.

"The fact that a garda has laid down his life while protecting the community is a cause of great sadness. His death will be mourned by the entire nation, grateful for the service which he gave to it," she said.

Dermot O'Brien, president of the Garda Representative Association, said: "This dreadful, dreadful news is the deepest fear of every police family. This puts everything we do into perspective."

The leader of Ireland's Catholics, Archbishop Eamon Martin, spoke by phone from Rome to local priests and asked for prayers.

"Like me, they are very upset by this tragic incident which has devastated families and rocked the peaceful parish community in beautiful Omeath," he said.