Thousands mourn policeman killed in Irish border village

AP News
Posted: Oct 15, 2015 10:58 AM

DUBLIN (AP) — Ireland's leaders and thousands of police paid silent tribute Thursday to an officer who was shot to death by an Irish Republican Army suspect awaiting trial, a killing that has raised questions about police resources and lax bail rules.

President Michael D. Higgins, Prime Minister Enda Kenny and police commanders from both parts of Ireland joined 4,000 officers at the state funeral of Tony Golden. The 36-year-old was killed Sunday in the border village of Omeath as he tried to protect a woman from her abusive partner, who had been charged with IRA membership in January but granted bail.

Golden's casket, covered with an Irish flag and his service cap, was carried from his home in the coastal town of Blackrock to a Catholic church overlooking Dundalk Bay. His widow, three children and police Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan walked in front of the coffin.

The ceremony was broadcast live on Irish state television, shown on big-screen TVs in the center of the city of Dundalk, and relayed by loudspeaker to thousands standing outside the church, where rows of police stood in dark blue uniforms by the hedge-lined roadsides.

The 24-year-old attacker, Adrian Mackin, took out an illegally held Glock machine pistol and shot his partner, Siobhan Phillips, and Golden as she gathered personal belongings from the couple's home. Mackin then shot and killed himself. Golden died at the scene, while 22-year-old Phillips — who had two children with Mackin — remains in critical condition in a Dublin hospital with gunshot wounds to the head and body.

Phillips' parents, Sean and Norma, said Golden had tried to shield their daughter from bullets and may have saved her life. "There are no words to express our gratitude for his bravery. We are forever in his debt," they said in a statement.

The killing of police is rare in the Republic of Ireland, where most of the 14,000-member national force carries only nonlethal weapons.