IRA garda killer is member of Louth crime prevention group
Tommy Eccles of the Cooley Community Alert Group was jailed for 40 years
Gardaí at the Mullach Alainn estate in Omeath, Co Louth where Garda Tony Golden was killed. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
A group campaigning for more Garda resources in Co Louth in the wake of the murders of Garda Tony Golden three weeks ago and Det Garda Adrian Donohoe in 2013 counts among its members a former IRA man jailed for killing a garda.
The treasurer of the Cooley Community Alert Group, Tommy Eccles, was jailed for 40 years for the murder of Det Garda Frank Hand but released under the Belfast Agreement.
Last week, the group published notes prepared for it in 2013 by Garda Golden, who was shot dead by Adrian Creaven Mackin in Omeath, Co Louth, on October 11th.
In his handwritten note, published last weekend, the late Garda Golden detailed personnel shortages and the lack of basic resources such as Garda vehicles in the Louth division.
Saying extra resources were needed in Louth after the killing of the second Garda member in just over 2½ years, the Cooley group said Garda Golden’s notes demonstrated the level of concern about inadequate policing in Louth.
Valued member of group
Along with fellow Dundalk IRA men Brian McShane and Pat McPhillips, Mr Eccles was convicted of the capital murder in August 1984 of Det Garda Hand (27). They received the death penalty, but it was commuted to 40 years.
The gang escaped with £220,000 from a post office van in Drumree, Co Meath, following the shooting.
Det Garda Hand was escorting the delivery with Det Garda Michael Dowd, who was injured in the attack.
Mr Eccles was released in 1998 under the terms of the Belfast Agreement and has been working in recent years with the Cooley group.
The notes were written by Garda Golden, at the request of the group, after his colleague Det Garda Donohoe was killed in January 2013 in a botched armed raid at Lordship Credit Union on the Cooley peninsula.