Ex-justice minister asks how Tony Golden’s killer had handgun

Former assistant garda commissioner says shooting not a justification for armed gardaí

Former minister for justice Dermot Ahern has said questions need to be answered over how the killer of garda Tony Golden was able to keep a handgun at his home.

Although Garda numbers in Omeath, Co Louth, where the shooting took place on Sunday, have fallen substantially in recent years, “there is no doubt that there is a latent kickback from the troubles in the area,” he said. “It raises the question: How come this individual had a hand gun?”

Mr Ahern, who was TD for Louth, added that former paramilitaries influenced a number of young, gullible, people who wouldn’t even have been born during the troubles.

He said Adrian Crevan Mackin (24), who shot his partner and fatally wounded garda Golden before turning his gun on himself, was an individual who didn't agree with the peace process in Northern Ireland.


He said that after 35 years of violence on the island of Ireland it was unrealistic to expect everyone formerly involved with paramilitary activity to transform into law abiding members of society.

“Unfortunately there are people around the island of Ireland still involved in terrorism and still possessing some of these weapons,” he told Sean O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio 1.

On the question of whether garda Golden should have entered the house without backup, he said gardaí respond to domestic incidents every day and that it would “make life very difficult” if they insisted on staying in the station every time a second garda was unavailable.

Also on Radio 1, former assistant Garda commissioner Martin Donnellan said he believed garda Golden would have known Mackin, who was charged in January with membership of an illegal organisation.

He added that Sunday’s shooting and others like it are not an argument for arming gardaí. He said usually when gardaí are shot it is in an ambush situation. “Unless the guards are aware there is danger around them they wouldn’t have their guns out of the holster.”

He added that if Golden did suspect that Mackin “had a gun, he would have gotten armed support from Dundalk”.

Dan Griffin

Dan Griffin

Dan Griffin is an Irish Times journalist