A gentle giant and a proud family man. Diligent, unassuming, and utterly selfless. A credit to An Garda Síochána.

These are the qualities ascribed by friends and colleagues to Garda Tony Golden yesterday as they struggled to come to terms with the “darkness” that enveloped Louth — again.

When he and Siobhan Phillips — who was attempting to leave her violent partner — stepped into her home at Number 16, Mullach Alainn, in Omeath, at 6.30pm on Sunday, they didn’t stand a chance.

Adrian Crevan Mackin was waiting at the top of the stairs, armed with a high-powered handgun.

As the two of them stood near the bottom of the stairs, he opened fire with his 9mm Glock and inflicted “catastrophic” injuries on the 36-year-old garda.

The father of three was hit up to three times to the upper body, while Ms Phillips was shot a number of times, including to the head.

Garda Golden’s death is thought to have been virtually “instantaneous”. Ms Phillips remains in a critical condition in hospital.

Aged in her early 20s, she had two children with Mackin. Thought to be aged one and two, they were in her parents’ house at the time of the shooting.

Adrian Crevan Mackin
Adrian Crevan Mackin

Ms Phillips’ father — who Garda Golden had asked to stay outside the house — heard the shooting and rang 999.

After the shooting, Mackin, aged 24, took his own life. He had been on bail for membership of the IRA.

Garda Golden leaves his wife Nicola, two daughters, aged six and four, and a son, aged two. Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan went to their home in Blackrock, Co Louth, yesterday to offer her condolences, and those of the entire nation.

She told the media that the sense of solidarity and support was “the only small comfort” she and the Garda Síochána could bring “to Nicola and Tony’s parents on a day like today”.

Garda Golden, she said, had been held in high esteem.

“He was out there,” she said. “He lived in the community, he worked in the community and served that community, and served it with dignity, with pride, and with distinction.

“He was a very, very proud family man. For his wife Nicola, the loss is unthinkable, for his parents and extended family.”

Garda Tony Golden
Garda Tony Golden

Garda Golden’s district boss, Superintendent Gerry Curley, visited the family on Sunday night.

Professional, but clearly shaken as he spoke to the media outside Dundalk Garda Station, he praised Garda Golden.

“He was meticulous in the way he went about his work,” said Supt Curley. “He was a quite and unassuming person, who did his job in a diligent manner and he was a credit to An Garda Síochána.”

He said Garda Golden had involved himself in various charity work, including for cancer.

Born in Ballina, Co Mayo, Garda Golden had been in the force for 11 years, first in Dublin, transferring to Dundalk in 2007, and moving to Omeath station six years ago.

“He was well known and well respected not only in that area, but throughout Dundalk,” said Supt Curley. “It’s a tragic loss for Dundalk district, particularly following on from such a short space of time to the death of Adrian Donohoe.”

Detective Garda Donohoe, a father of two, was shot dead by a criminal gang at Lordship Credit Union in Bellurgan, 13km from Omeath, in January 2013.

It emerged yesterday that the Garda unit that went to Garda Donohoe’s shooting was the same unit that went to Mullach Alainn on Sunday.

Ciaran O’Neill, vice president of the Garda Representative Association, said those gardaí were “completely devastated” and in “complete shock”.

He said it was a “very dark day”, adding: “We’ve lost one of our colleagues, a good friend. An Garda Síochána is like a family. It’s like losing a sibling.”

GRA president Dermot O’Brien said “a darkness is enveloping An Garda Síochána”.

Green Party councillor Mark Dearey, a friend of the Phillips family, described Garda Golden’s intervention as “utterly selfless”.

Speaking on RTÉ News, he said that the family had asked him to “express gratitude” for the actions of Garda Golden. He added that the family was “holding out hope” for the recovery of their daughter.

He said the appalling violence was “like an attack on all of us”.

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