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Gardai's last shooting death was during botched robbery

IT'S been four years since the last high-profile fatal shooting by a garda.

In May 2005, two members of a gang involved in feuding and armed robbery were shot dead by the Emergency Response Unit during a botched raid at a post office in Lusk, north Co Dublin.

Eric Hopkins (24) and Collie Griffin (33) were intercepted by officers waiting for the raiders inside the post office.

An inquest heard Griffin ignored warnings to drop his loaded gun and tried to fire at gardai. He suffered a gunshot injury to the head, while Hopkins died from a gunshot that passed through his heart.

In December 2001, Detective Sergeant John Eiffe, a member of the National Surveillance Unit, died after being hit by a ricocheted bullet fired by a colleague during a garda operation to foil a bank raid in Abbeyleix, Co Laois.

Det Sgt Eiffe's widow would later receive €950,000 in compensation.

In April 2000, a man suffering from a psychiatric illness, John Carthy (27), was shot dead by the Emergency Response Unit in controversial circumstances at his home in Abbelylara, Co Longford, following a 25-hour siege.

The killing led to a tribunal of inquiry which was critical of how gardai handled the situation.

It also made recommendations which have led to changes in garda training and how they handle siege situations.

On May 1, 1998, a gang which attempted to take advantage of the garda 'blue flu' protest was foiled and one of their members killed.

Ronan McLoughlin (28) died when officers opened fire on the gang, who were armed with guns including an AK47, as they attempted to rob a security van near Ashford, Co Wicklow.

In July 1990, two bank robbers died in a shootout with gardai following a high speed chase.

William Doyle (35) and Thomas Wilson (39) were fatally wounded by officers in Fairview, Dublin, after earlier holding up the Bank of Ireland branch at Leixlip, Co Kildare, making off with IR£2,500.

A few months beforehand, a bank raider was also shot dead by armed detectives during an attempted robbery in Athy, Co Kildare.

Austin Higgins (26) was one of a five-man gang which carried out the raid on the Bank of Ireland branch in January 1990. He was fatally wounded by a bullet to the head.

Gardai opened fire during a tense siege where some of the raiders took hostages.

The surviving gang members later received 12-year sentences.