The father of a woman critically injured in a domestic dispute alerted gardaí to shots which left Garda Tony Golden and a gunman dead, investigating gardaí said today.
At a press conference at Dundalk Garda Station, Supt Gerry Curley said Garda Golden, a father-of-three, had taken a statement from a woman by prior arrangement on Sunday afternoon regarding a complaint of alleged domestic abuse.
Afterwards, Garda Golden, accompanied by the woman and her father, went to her home at 16 Mullach Alainn, Omeath.
Both Garda Golden and the woman entered the house, while her father remained outside.
“Shortly afterwards gunshots were heard in the house. Her father immediately raised the alarm and the gardaí were contacted by way of 999,” Supt Curley said.
When emergency services responded, they found the body of Garda Golden with a number of gunshot wounds which proved to be fatal.
The woman’s partner, dissident republican Adrian Crevan Mackin, was found with a fatal gunshot wound.
The woman received a number of “serious gunshot wounds” and is in a critical condition in Beaumonth Hospital in Dublin. It is understood the couple have been together since the woman finished school four years ago and have two children, both under the age of four. The children were not in the house at the time of the shooting.
Supt Curley said a firearm was recovered at the scene.
“A full investigation is now underway into all aspects surrounding this incident,” he said.
Speaking at the press conference, Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan said it was a “sad and tragic” day for the force and local community.
Garda Golden was originally from Ballina, Co Mayo, and was the father of two girls and a boy under the age of eight.
He had been living in Blackrock, Co Louth, with his family and was based in Omeath Garda station.
“I’m particularly mindful that this is the second tragedy that has been visited on the local community here and, in particular, the members in Dundalk district,” the commissioner said.
She said some of the gardaí at the scene of the shooting on Sunday were also on the scene of the fatal shooting of detective Adrian Donohoe in Belurgan in January 2013, following a botched raid.
Nobody has yet been charged with Garda Donohoe’s killing.
“It is a very traumatic time. An investigation has commenced and all aspects of the investigation will be completely followed,” she said.
Commissioner O’Sullivan also paid tribute to Garda Golden’s dedication and service over his 11 years in the force.
“Tony was a very respected member who was held in high esteem. He lived in the community, he worked in the community and he served the community,” Ms O’Sullivan said.
“He served the community with dignity, pride and distinction. He was a very proud family man.. the loss is unthinkable for Nicola, her parents and the extended family.”
When questioned over issues of personal safety for Garda Golden given the threat posed by Crevan Mackin, Ms O’Sullivan said investigations were continuing.
“There are dangerous people right throughout the community. Without going into the circumstance of this case, there is an investigation underway, all the circumstances leading up to these tragic events will be fully established,” she said.
“It’s not appropriate to comment further at this time over any of the individuals involved, other than to say … there is always that unknown factor,” she said.
“So, when people go about their duty, they go about it with diligence, bravery and courage, without fear or favour. I think that’s a very important thing to remember on a day like today.
"The job the men and women of An Garda Síochána do, they do it courageously, bravely and unfortunately as of today 88 members have lost their lives in tragic ways…"
Earlier, Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald described the fatal shooting as a "stark reminder" of the risks faced by members of the force.
She also declined to criticise a decision by the Special Criminal Court to grant bail to the man who shot dead garda Golden.
Mackin was a dissident republican and was arrested in January and brought before the Special Criminal Court and charged with membership of an illegal organisation.
He was released on bail four days later and was still on bail when he shot dead garda Golden.
His arrest followed a joint Garda-Police Service of Northern Ireland operation to target dissident republicans in the Border area.
Ms Fitzgerald said on Monday there was a separation of powers between the judiciary and the Government, but it was a “matter of record” that a new Bill strengthening the bail laws was before the Dáil.
“This is an area I want to take action on,” she said. “We will have those debates in the Dáil in the next few weeks.”
In July Ms Fitzgerald proposed a number of changes to the bail laws, including a stipulation that courts must give reasons for granting bail. At present courts do not have to provide a reason for their decisions.
It will also grant gardaí powers of arrest without warrant for breach of bail conditions, where it is necessary to arrest the person immediately to prevent absconding or to prevent harm.
She told Newstalk’s Breakfast programme on Monday there were enough prison spaces.
“The separation of powers is extremely important. Courts make their decisions based on a variety of factors. The law is there to guide them.”
“When the rest of the country was thinking about sport, this young garda was out doing his job, doing the job he entered the force to do.”
Dermot O’Brien, president of the Garda Representative Association, said: “This dreadful, dreadful news is the deepest fear of every police family. This puts everything we do into perspective.”
The leader of Ireland’s Catholics, Archbishop Eamon Martin, spoke by phone from Rome to local priests and asked for prayers. “Like me, they are very upset by this tragic incident which has devastated families and rocked the peaceful parish community in beautiful Omeath,” he said.
Additional reporting: PA