‘Garda Golden, in the protection of others, laid down his life’

Parents of Siobhán Phillips (22) pray for recovery of critically ill mother of two

Hundreds of people queued for hours outside the home of murdered Garda Tony Golden in Blackrock, Co Louth on Wednesday to pay their respects at his removal.

Dozens of mourners gathered in the nearby Blackrock Community Centre where locals donated their time to man coffee stands for the masses of mourners and well wishers who made the journey to the town just south of Dundalk.

A woman there said the response from the locality had been “enormous” with local shops donating goods for the days ahead. Meanwhile, the tricolors at St Oliver Plunkett National School around the corner were flying at half-mast.

Books of condolence dotted around the town in various shops were filled with hundreds of names from Blackrock and the surrounding hinterland.


Garda Golden, a father of three young children under the age of eight, was shot dead on Sunday evening after he brought Siobhán Phillips (22) to her home in the Mullach Álainn estate near Omeath.

She was there to collect personal items as she was fleeing her partner who was beating her. She had gone there with her father Sean and Garda Golden.

Garda Golden instructed Mr Phillips to remain outside the house while he escorted her inside.

However, when she went into the house with Garda Golden, her partner and the father of her two young children Adrian Crevan Mackin shot her in the head and body with a Glock 9mm handgun.

He then shot and killed Garda Golden as he surged towards Ms Phillips to protect her. Mackin then turned the gun on himself.

Sean Phillips, who was outside in a car, heard the shots and raised the alarm.

His daughter survived but remains critically ill in Beaumont Hospital, Dublin.

Mackin had been charged with an organisation styling itself the IRA in January but was freed in bail by the Special Criminal Court pending trial.

On Wednesday, the injured woman’s family said Garda Golden “laid down his life” to save Ms Phillips who was critically wounded in the gun attack that killed him.

In a tribute to Garda Golden, Sean and Norma Phillips said their daughter had been saved by the murdered garda's bravery.

"We would like to pay tribute to and express our condolences to the family and colleagues of Garda Anthony Golden, " they said. "Garda Golden, in the service and protection of others, laid down his life for my daughter Siobhan, myself and my family.

“There are no words to express our gratitude for his bravery, we are forever in his debt. Our beautiful daughter Siobhan, a loving mother, sister and friend, is fighting for her life.

“For now, we pray for Siobhan’s recovery and for the family of Garda Golden as they face their immeasurable grief.

“We ask for privacy for our family and Siobhan’s small children at this time.”

The statement of tribute came as final preparations for Garda Golden’s State funeral in Co Louth on Thursday were being put in place.

His remains weare reposing on Wednesday at the home in Blackrock, Co Louth, that he shared with his wife Nicola and three children Lucy, Alex and Andrew.

Garda Golden’s funeral Mass is due to take place at noon on Thursday at St Oliver Plunkett Church, followed by burial at St Paul’s, Heynestown.

Chief celebrant for the Mass will be Fr Pádraig Keenan, parish priest of Haggardstown, Blackrock.

Among those who visited the home of Garda Golden was Fianna Fáil leader Mícheál Martin who said he, former minister for justice Dermot Ahern and the party’s jobs spokesman Dara Calleary had made the journey to “show solidarity” with the family ahead of tomorrow’s State funeral.

“We’ll be back up tomorrow,” said Mr Martin. “We decided we’d come up and meet his family, his wife, kids, and his parents and express on a personal level our sympathies and show our solidarity with the family at this very sad time.

“On a personal level, everyone can see there is total disbelief and shock at the loss of a gentleman. The stories you hear - and I met quite a few inside - obviously his GAA connection and his tallness on the sporting field as a young boy. He was a very strong community Garda, very committed to his job, and very professional.”

Mr Martin said the shooting dead of a Garda “strikes at the very core of what our civilisation and society is about”.

“It strikes at the core of our democratic principles because the gardaí fundamentally are a pillar,” he said. “They are foundation on which the democracy we have depends on.

“Our society depends on the work the gardaí do. As all of us grew up in life, the whole position of the Garda was a celebrated one within the community and they stand apart in terms of the work they do.

“An appalling event like this is a reminder of that central role in our lives, and the degree to which they put themselves on the line for everybody else on a daily basis. Events like this do cause us to reflect.”

Mr Ahern said he and the rest of the community was “shattered” by the events of the weekend.

“I live only 500 yards from Tony and his wife, and indeed Nicola’s parents as well,” he said. “They’re friends of all of ours over the years. We’re all shattered by what has happened. It’s come so close to home.

“It was bad enough with Adrian Donohoe. We all knew Adrian Donohoe but this is so local to Blackrock here where Tony took up home with Nicola, and their house is just beside Nicola’s parents, so the whole area is just shattered.

“It’s difficult to countenance and understand. Here was a man who went out from his house just a hundred yards from where we’re standing to do his duty - to help a woman in distress - and this is what he gets. He doesn’t deserve it. No one deserves it.”

Mr Calleary said there had been a huge number of people travelling from his native Ballina, in Co Mayo, where Garda Golden was originally from.

“The amount of people who have travelled here from Ballina has been incredible,” he said. “It’s a four hour journey and there were massive crowds and they are still landing in. It’s a big town so it’s important everyone can rally around them.”

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter