Garda Golden made the ultimate sacrifice
The murder of a young garda in Omeath last night is a tragedy for his family, An Garda Siochana and the country.
Garda Tony Golden, a married father of three children - all under the age of eight - made the ultimate sacrifice to protect his community on a quiet Sunday night when he and colleagues responded to a report of a domestic disturbance in the sleepy north Louth village.
Accompanying a distressed young woman to her home, Garda Golden was shot dead by a suspected dissident, Adrian Crevan Mackin, who also shot his partner before killing himself.
Mackin was charged with IRA membership last January at the non-jury Special Criminal Court. Questions will, no doubt, be asked in time as to how a suspected dissident had access to firearms when released on bail pending trial.
The deaths in the line of duty of members of An Garda Siochana are still, thankfully, rare - Garda Golden is the 88th member to die in the line of duty.
However, Garda Golden's murder, less than three years after the still unsolved murder of Detective Adrian Donohoe at nearby Lordship Credit Union, is a reminder of the selfless courage of our police service that has - like many of our frontline services - been stripped of resources and personnel in recent years.
And it is a reminder, if one were required, of the dangers gardaí face on a daily basis as they uphold our personal security and that of the State. An Garda Siochána is a unique policing service due to the fact that it is an unarmed force - save for specialist units such as the Emergency Response Unit (ERU).
Gardaí are the backbone of our community; an attack on one is an attack on us all.