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Garda colleagues of Tony Golden 'will never get over what happened' to him

The Garda Ombudsman last week launched an investigation into the events surrounding the garda’s killing.

LAST WEEK, QUESTIONS were raised about whether Adrian Crevan Mackin, the man who shot dead Garda Tony Golden in 2015, was a garda informer.

Now, as an investigation has been launched by the Garda Ombudsman, gardaí in Louth say they are still grieving his loss. Speaking about his members in the Louth division, the Garda Representative Association’s (GRA) Robbie Peelo said “there’s no district and no division that will get over what’s happened”.

Golden was accompanying domestic violence victim Siobhán Phillips to the home she shared with Crevan Mackin to retrieve her belongings when he was killed. The then 21-year-old woman was seriously injured in the incident.

A recent RTÉ Investigates programme pointed out Crevan Macken had admitted to gardaí to possessing guns just nine months beforehand. However, he was not charged with firearms offences despite those admissions.

The day after this broadcast, the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) announced it was investigating the events surrounding the killing of Garda Golden. As well as examining whether gardaí acted appropriately upon their knowledge of the risk posed by Crevan Mackin, the inquiry will also assess whether Siobhán Philips’ complaints about being beaten by the 24-year-old were adequately treated.

Peelo spoke yesterday evening of the loss of Golden and that of Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe, who was also murdered in Louth in January 2013.

Source: CONOR Ó MEARÁIN

“We’ve lost two colleagues, families have lost husbands, parents have lost sons,” he said. “There’s no way to answer that question because we’ll never be able to get over what happened.”

Though he said there had been an influx of new members, shortfalls in other areas like the detective branch were “still leaving guards on the ground stuck for numbers”.

Speaking ahead of the opening of the GRA’s annual delegate conference in Salthill, Co Galway, the association’s president Ciaran O’Neill said policing in Ireland “remains a dangerous job”.

“The Minister for Justice and Equality has recently confirmed that 631 gardaí were injured on duty in 2015. This is massively underreported. Official figures show that 5,417 gardaí were injured on duty since 2006 and there were five on-duty fatalities,” he said.

Our workplace is every single part of the State – where every conceivable danger is possible from high speed pursuit to armed robbery, from hypodermic needles to dangerous animals. We provide a catchall service that is the last line of defence between our people and mortal danger.

He also pointed out that management does not class gardaí as victims on the system when they have been assaulted on the job.

In the victims’ charter, every person who is assaulted in Pulse is a victim unless they’re a member of An Garda Síochána. If they’re a member of An Garda Síochána they’re not.

Source: CONOR Ó MEARÁIN

O’Neill spoke of the impact the stressful nature of the job has on the health of its members.

“While it might seem reasonable to assume that policing is inherently stressful because of this exposure to dangerous or traumatic situations, there is growing empirical evidence that suggests organisational issues may be more stressful than operational issues – issues that are interlinked; role ambiguity and conflict.

“Notwithstanding oversight of management, the judiciary, Ombudsman, policing authority and the media; the number of traumatic events a garda may experience in a month could exceed that experienced in anyone else’s lifetime.”

Extensive research confirms that the pressures of law enforcement puts officers at real risk of high blood pressure, insomnia, dangerous levels of destructive stress hormones, heart problems, post traumatic stress disorder and suicide.

The GRA is calling for a mandatory sentence of at least one year for any offender convicted of an assault on a member of frontline staff. In the absence of specific legislation for this, O’Neill said his members want the Garda Commissioner to provide them with equipment like tasers to deal with volatile situations.

For live updates from the conference in Galway over the next three days, follow @michellehetweet.

Read: Gardaí on breath test scandal: ‘It’s not collective responsibility, it’s a management issue’>

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