Noirin O’Sullivan: A sad and tragic day for the families of shooting victims

Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan said yesterday was a “very sad and tragic day” for the families of those shot dead and injured in Sunday’s murder-suicide in rural Co Louth.

She said the tragedy in Omeath — in which Garda Tony Golden was shot dead by dissident republican Adrian Crevan Mackin, who also attempted to murder his partner Siobhan Phillips before turning the gun on himself — also deeply affected the members of An Garda Síochána and the wider community.

“My thoughts are with the families of all the individuals involved in this absolutely horrific and tragic incident.”

Speaking outside Dundalk Garda Station, the commissioner said that the injured woman was understood to be in a “critical condition” in hospital and wished her a speedy recovery.

Flanked by senior officers, Ms O’Sullivan said their thoughts were also with the family of Mr Mackin.

“Especially our thoughts are today with Tony Golden’s wife Nicola and his three children, his parents and wider extended family and particularly the members here in Dundalk district, but also right across An Garda Síochána.”

She said it was all the more tragic coming less than three years after the shooting dead of Det Garda Adrian Donohoe by a criminal gang, a short distance away at Lordship Credit Union in January 2013.

“I’m particularly mindful this is the second tragedy that has been visited on the local community here and in particular members of Dundalk district. It’s a very traumatic time.”

She praised the “professionalism” of the gardaí in Dundalk, saying on Sunday night “they were diligently working, trying to piece together the circumstances”.

Gardai Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan signs the book of condolences for Garda Tony Golden
Gardai Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan signs the book of condolences for Garda Tony Golden

She said the gardaí were “putting aside their own personal emotions”, but said they were “human beings”.

The commissioner added: “When a colleague is lost in such tragic circumstances they have to park that emotion, that trauma.”

She confirmed that the same garda unit was the first responders to the Sunday evening shooting — at a house at Mullach Alainn estate, just outside Omeath — as to the shooting of Det Gda Donohoe.

“I spoke to those members this morning. The chief superintendent [Pat McGee] and superintendent [Gerry Curley] were with them last night. We have our peer supporters here and they are being supported.

“You will appreciate, having to attend to a scene such as this, the scene that faced them and rendering assistance to one of their own colleagues who was shot down in this way and also the other people at the scene — it’s very traumatic for young gardaí.”

The commissioner said the death of Garda Golden brings to 88 the number of gardaí who gave their lives in the course of duty.

“Our thoughts should extend to the brave families of all of those members, because it is something that stays with those families forever.”

She said it brought into “sharp focus the dangers faced by the men and women of An Garda Síochána every single day in going about their duty in protecting the community and protecting vulnerable members of the community”.

The commissioner was joined at the press briefing by acting deputy commissioner John Twomey (operations) and assistant commissioners Kieran Kenny (northern region) and John O’Mahoney (Crime&Security) as well as Chief McGee and Supt Curley.

She later visited Garda Golden’s family, the murder scene, and Omeath station.

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