Thursday 27 October 2016

'He laid down his life doing what he had sworn to do. He had sworn to be a guardian of the peace ...'

Gardai line the route as the cortege makes its way through Blackrock
Gardai line the route as the cortege makes its way through Blackrock
Gardai mourn the loss of their comrade Garda Tony Golden
Anne McCabe, widow of Garda Jerry Mccabe

Tony Golden laid down his life in order to do what he had sworn to do - to be a guardian of the peace.

Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan said the father-of-three was an extraordinary member of the force who had become a "hero in death".

In an emotionally-charged tribute to the garda, Commmissioner O'Sullivan said that, above all, Tony Golden was a "daddy" to three young children and a "loving husband".

Over 4,000 gardai, both serving and retired, lined the streets of Blackrock, Co Louth, in a huge show of solidarity for their fallen colleague and friend.

Speaking at the funeral Mass, the Commissioner said the pain evoked by his death has touched a chord with each and every member of the gardai.

But she said the overarching driving force in his life was to care for his wife and children.

"Above all, Tony was a family man, a man living with a ring of love forged by himself, and Nicola," Commissioner O'Sullivan said.


"The two of them had made several happy, family plans. They had hopes and dreams for their future together, for their children's futures."

She said it was "achingly sad" to realise that the couple's little children will need help in the years to come to remember "the best of what has been taken away from them".

"To remember being helped onto the big shoulders of their Daddy, to get the very best view," Commissioner O'Sullivan added.

"To remember the strong, sure hands of him, remember the sound of his car arriving outside, and the excitement of rushing to tell him all the things that were just so important, that had happened that day.

"He was a proud, loving family man. He was a hero protecting a frightened woman and her father.

"He laid down his life in order to do what he had sworn to do - he had sworn to be a guardian of the peace."

Gda Golden (36) was shot dead while responding to a domestic abuse case last Sunday. Adrian Crevan Mackin (24) also shot and critically wounded his ex-partner, Siobhan Phillips, before turning the gun on himself.

Commissioner O'Sullivan said that faced with such tragedy, the force was filled with disbelief.

"We were filled with anger, and then filled with grief so consuming that all wept without shame, for a friend and a colleague lost to us," she said.

Referring to the fatal shooting of Det Gda Adrian Donohoe nearly three years ago, she said Golden's death is the second "friend and colleague lost to us" in very short space of time.

The hearse carrying Gda Golden's coffin paused momentarily on its journey to the St Oliver Plunkett Church outside the local garda station.

Garda Golden's wife Nicola and their children - Lucy, Alex and Andrew - followed his coffin, draped with the triclour and Gda Golden's garda hat and gloves, into the church.

President Michael D Higgins, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan, the Chief Constable of the PSNI and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, along with political representatives from all parties, attended.

Also present were Ann McCabe, widow of Garda Jerry McCabe, and former commissioners.

Garda Golden’s widow, Nicola, at the funeral ceremony

Symbols of Gda Golden's life brought to the altar included a remote control, a can of Coke, crisps, a Drifter bar of chocolate and packet of Hunky Dorys crisps, presented by fellow Garda and friend Kevin Cleary.

A Ballina Stephanites GAA club jersey and hurley, from Tony's home town in Mayo, were also presented with family photographs.

Fr Padraig Keenan, Parish Priest of Haggardstown and Blackrock, told mourners that "too many hearts have been broken, and lives shattered".

He said that while the nation shared the joy of the victory over France in the Rugby World Cup, the stillness of last Sunday was "shattered."

"As a guardian of the peace, Garda Tony was doing his duty on behalf of our State and all of society. In that spirit he was assisting a member of the public, giving her protection, guarding her peace," said Fr Keenan.

He said that Tony was proud to serve as a guard, to be a father and a husband.

"As one person from there put it to me in recent days, he was 'Our garda'."

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