Garda Tony Golden's killer 'would have no support' from majority of republicans, says Gerry Adams
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has said the man who killed Garda Tony Golden would have "no support whatsoever" from the majority of republicans.
The unarmed and uniformed police officer was murdered in a gun attack when he responded to a 999 call about a domestic incident in Omeath in County Louth last night.
The murderer, who then turned the gun on himself, was a dissident republican terror suspect believed to be from Northern Ireland.
The killing of the "hero" garda, a father-of-three, has caused widespread shock and revulsion on both sides of the border.
Gerry Adams paid tribute to Garda Golden, saying he was a well-known and well-liked man.
"I'm shocked, just so shocked," he told RTE Radio One's Today with Sean O'Rourke.
"He will be a great loss to his family, his community and his garda community."
Mr Adams said the gunman, Adrian Crevan Mackin (24), was not known to him and he emphasised that violent dissident groups do not have support.
"The vast majority of Republicans in south Armagh, south Down and north Louth are active supporters of the peace process and the Sinn Fein peace strategy," he said.
"The man who killed this garda, he was only four or five or six years old in 1994 for the Provisional Irish Republican Army ceasefire.
"These folks don't have any support whatsover. I can say with certainty there is no support for these so-called dissidents, none whatsoever."
A young woman was also injured in the incident in Omeath and was described as being in a critical condition last night.
Garda Representative Association President Dermot O’Brien said questions must be asked over Ireland’s bail laws.
It was revealed that the gunman was on bail for terrorist offences when he shot and killed Garda Tony Golden before turning his handgun on himself, taking his own life.
Mr O’Brien described the incident as “cold blooded murder – a despicable act”.
“Tony Golden was a friend, a colleague, he was a brother in blue,” Mr O’Brien told Newstalk Breakfast.
“Ireland has lost a hero; he laid his life on the line for the community he served.
“Tony was a married man with three young children, and yesterday he went to a call and, sadly like all members of An Garda Síochána, his dedication to serve and protect has ended with the tragic loss of his life.”
“This is a time of grieving and today isn’t the day to be asking what could have been done but I can guarantee wholeheartedly we will be laying this bare at the feet of the Minister for Justice,” Mr O’Brien said.
“Something needs to be done about the bail laws.”
Paying tribute to the slain officer, Mr O’Brien said his death had caused a “darkness to descend across all members of An Garda Síochána”.
“Sadly we’re the only job in Ireland were we can’t promise to our families when we walk out the door that we’re going to come back.
“People need to take into account that the unit that was working yesterday in Louth is the same unit that attended Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe’s murder.
"These people, in a short space of time, will be burying two of their members, their friends.
“[But] as we talk about losing a member of An Garda Síochána, the Golden family have lost a father, a husband, and a son.
"Our thoughts and prays are with them now in this sad sad time," Mr O’Brien added.
The sense of shock was palpable as stunned locals gathered behind the garda cordon at the bottom of the hill from the Mullach Alainn estate last night.
However, the people of the Cooley Peninsula are no stranger to such tragedy.
Omeath is just 12km, over hills and scenic countryside, from the village of Lordship where Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe was murdered by an armed gang who were attempting to hold up the local credit union.
To lose two local members of the force in such senseless, violent attacks - two family men and fathers to young children - is impossible to comprehend.
Local man Michael Maguire (44) said the entire village of Omeath was shocked by the latest killing.
"I arrived at the crossroads and there was terrible commotion.
"There were ambulances and garda cars all around and even the garda helicopter was flying overhead. "Someone said there had been a shooting but it was only later we discovered it was our local garda - who was a lovely man and a gentleman.
"We can't believe what has happened. It seems only a couple of years ago that Garda Adrian Donohoe was shot in Bellurgan," he explained.
Locals gathered at a filling station and pub near the estate as the media and garda presence grew bigger.
Jacinta Black, a native of the area, said: "We are devastated for the garda's family. He had three young kids.
"It's terrible that a man can leave his family at 2pm to do a shift and never make it home again. He was well liked and very popular," she added.
Local priest Fr Christy McElewee said the small community was trying to come to terms with the terrible tragedy that had unfolded.
"Talking to local people they are not familiar with this type of incident, they can't believe that this is happening in their community," he said.
"The situation is so shocking, especially as it involved a local garda who everybody knows and liked, a fine family man. It's a very sad story," he added.
"We don't know what happened. We are all in the dark, and all we know is what we are hearing on the news," said one local man.
"There are different versions of events coming out, but it is shocking to think that there are people dead and injured in the town," said a local woman.
Locals were also concerned for the young woman who was seriously injured in the shooting and who was being treated in hospital last night.
"She was a really nice girl. She worked in a salon, to feed her kids. She was doing her best," said a local man.
Green Party councillor Mark Dearey visited the scene and said: "The whole community has been turned inside out by this, turned upside down."