State funeral held for Garda Tony Golden

Officer shot dead responding to domestic dispute in Omeath, Co Louth, on Sunday

The State funeral of Garda Tony Golden at St Oliver Plunkett Church, Blackrock, Co Louth. Video: Bryan O’Brien

 

The State funeral of Garda Tony Golden, who was shot dead responding to a domestic dispute, has taken place in Co Louth.

Garda Golden’s remains were removed from his home, which he shared with his wife Nicola and three children, Lucy, Alex and Andrew, and brought to St Oliver Plunkett Church in Blackrock near Dundalk.

His Garda cap sat on top of his Tricolour-draped coffin as it was carried into the church by colleagues. His wife and children led the large procession behind.

The funeral Mass was held before his burial at St Paul’s in Heynestown. The 36-year-old’s funeral notice describes Garda Golden as an “adored dad”, “beloved husband” and a “dedicated member of An Garda Síochána”.

President Michael D Higgins, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tánaiste Joan Burton, Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and gardaí from across the country are among the hundreds of mourners in attendance.

The funeral Mass was broadcast on speakers to the large crowd outside the church and was also shown on screens in the town.

The Dáil and Seanad is not sitting and the Oireachtas has cancelled all committee meetings for the day as a mark of respect to Garda Golden.

Fr Pádraig Keenan, the parish priest of Haggardstown, was the chief celebrant.

The Co Louth village of Blackrock came to a standstill on Thursday, with traffic cordons in place from 10am ensuring the roads were completely free of vehicles.

Small groups of local people were gathered outside, mostly discussing the violent events of last Sunday in Omeath that claimed the life of Garda Golden.

Locals on the streets leading to the church were greeting those mourners and well wishers who had begun to arrive for the funeral mass up to two hours in advance.

Outside the church a guard of honour of an estimated 100 gardaí was in place from 10am.

The car park of the tiny church, which overlooks the waters of Dundalk Bay on the Cooley peninsula, was already a hive of activity with print and broadcast media gathered since early morning.

Former minister for justice Dermot Ahern, who is from the area, and Anne McCabe, the widow of Det Garda Jerry McCabe shot dead by an IRA gang in the village of Adare, Co Limerick, 19 years ago, were among the first dignitaries to arrive.

Former Garda commissioners Martin Callinan, Noel Conroy and Fachtna Murphy had also arrived together just after 11am.

From the Garda, assistant commissioner Derek Byrne and detective chief superintendent Eugene Corcoran, who leads the Criminal Assets Bureau, could be seen speaking with younger members of the force beginning to arrive for the service.

Up to 4,000 Garda members are in attendance from all ranks spanning Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan to Garda Golden’s rank and file colleagues.

They are burying their second colleague in Co Louth in two-and-a-half years, with Det Garda Adrian Donohoe shot dead during a botched robbery in January 2013.

PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton was present. Other mourners included the Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, Vice Admiral Mark Mellett who led a large party, Director of Public Prosecutions Claire Loftus and a delegation of uniformed officers from the Revenue’s Customs Service.

The symbols presented at the beginning of the mass were a Ballina Stephanites GAA club jersey and hurley, presented by Keith Gutherie (Friend of Tony); family photographs, presented by Jonathan and Tara Shirley (brother and sister-in-law of Nicola); a remote control, can of Coke, a Drifter chocolate bar and Hunky Dory crisps, presented by Kevin Cleary

Garda Golden was born in Ballina, Co Mayo, to David and Breege Golden, and attended St Muredach’s College.

He had served as a garda for more than 10 years in several divisions.