Vicious gangs and violent legacy of Troubles make policing this area particularly dangerous
Adrian Crevan Mackin, the deranged gunman who murdered Garda Tony Golden, was part of a gang of 'dissident' republicans in the north Louth area that local people and gardai yesterday both termed 'drug-abusing scum'.
In the past two years, according to local sources, he had been involved with a local 'Real' IRA gang, whose main criminal activities are said to involve peddling illegal steroids and extorting money from local business people.
The two main figures in the group, which uses the name 'Real' IRA in Dundalk and Cooley, are both said to be, like Mackin, abusers of the drugs they peddle.
Steroids can have the effect of causing erratic and violent behaviour and this would seem to be characterised by the violent domestic episode that took place on Friday evening at the house in the Mullach Alainn estate in Omeath and which was later reported to Garda Golden on Sunday.
It is suspected locally Mackin was also consuming a cocktail of drugs, including steroids, which would have worsened any violent tendencies he already harboured.
Local sources say that Mackin's two 'bosses' in the Real IRA gang are both well known for similar erratic and violent behaviour.
The 'Real' IRA in the border area has not been involved in any form of anti-British terrorism for well over a decade.
Omeath and the Cooley Peninsula were key areas of support for the Provisional IRA during the Troubles and the tiny group terming itself the 'Real' IRA is the residue of the group which broke away in 1997 and began a bombing campaign which culminated in the August 1998 atrocity in Omagh. Since then, the group has declined in size and influence to the point where it is little more than a small, violent gang - but, as Sunday's events showed - still with access to firearms.
Mackin is also understood to have had associations with two brothers from the region who were involved with the gang that shot dead Det Garda Adrian Donohoe in Dundalk in January 2013.
Co Louth Fine Gael councillor and former Garda Special Branch officer Richie Culhane yesterday said the murder of Gda Golden is not only a tragedy but a "symptom of the violent residue left in the border area since the Troubles. This second murder of a brave member of An Garda Siochana doing his duty, like Adrian Donohoe, doing tremendous work for his local community, is rightly being condemned by the whole country," he said.
"Policing in this area is particularly dangerous because of this residue of the Northern Troubles. There are no end of dangerous gangster types, including the Provisional IRA and the other so-called 'dissidents' who continue to subject the people of the border area to extortion and racketeering of the worst kind." Cutbacks have also seen a reduction in garda resources in the area.