Yet again it takes a murder, and one with quasi-political overtones in the eyes of some exploitative journalists, before politicians and the news media turn their attention back to the epidemic of domestic abuse suffered by women and girls across Ireland. Last Sunday night in the small County Louth village of Omeath thirty-six year old garda Tony Golden was shot dead by a known petty criminal, Adrian Crevan Mackin, aged twenty-four, at a house in the Mullach Álainn estate. Mackin shared the home with Siobhán Philips, his recently estranged partner and the mother of his two children, who had returned to the residence that evening, accompanied by her father and garda Golden, to collect some personal items. In a dreadful act of spontaneous bloodshed Mackin, armed with an illegal Glock 17 9mm semi-automatic pistol, critically wounded the twenty-two year old woman in the upstairs of the house, before firing on garda Golden as the latter rushed to investigate the source of the gunshots. The County Down born man, abandoned by his emigrated parents during his teenage years to a life of violence, homelessness and drug-abuse, then turned the gun on himself.
Much has been made of Mackin’s charging last January in the Special Criminal Court with membership of a subversive organisation, the Irish Republican Army (otherwise Óglaigh na hÉireann, or the IRA), and his possession of a handgun at the time of his murder-suicide. Certainly the troubled youth shared some of the characteristics of those “street toughs” who hang around the fringes of the so-called Dissident Republican movements. However by all accounts his would-be insurgent career was more fantasy than reality, with the mainstream groupings rejecting his approaches, including denying him access to the political prisoners’ wing of Port Laoise prison while in custody awaiting trial (he was actually on bail at the time of the dreadful incident in Omeath). Furthermore his possession of an unlicensed firearm, which he had a reputation for toting, simply reflects the wide scale availability of weapons amongst even minor criminals on an island nation whose borders have been thrown open with zero regard for the consequences by a political class subservient to the pecuniary interests of transnational business corporations.
The murder of garda Tony Golden, coupled with an attempted murder and suicide, has drawn the usual ridiculous demands from pygmy-brained politicians, including requests for the arming of all gardaí or the deployment of infantry troops in a law enforcement role (thereby throwing away several decades of civil policing and the rule of law). Anything and everything but address the real fundamentals of the case which are not too difficult to enumerate, even for the most feeble-minded. A man in his early twenties with a long history of personality problems, substance-addiction and unemployment who should have been brought under the management of social welfare and health care professionals years ago. A young woman who struggled to maintain a normal relationship with her partner despite reports of violence and abuse going back at least two years. An under-resourced and depleted Garda Síochána, especially in rural areas, whose officers are placed in needlessly dangerous circumstances on an almost daily basis. The importation and distribution of firearms in a growing black market with links to well-known Eastern Europe criminal networks. The slashing of funding by the Fine Gael and Labour coalition to already underfunded services specifically designed to help the victims of domestic abuse, both adults and children. And so on and so forth.
In tragic cases such as this it is easier for lazy politicians and newspaper columnists faced by a complex situation requiring complex solutions to simply scream: arm the police, deploy the army! Having had their populist say on the airwaves or in print they can then turn away and pretend everything is ok. Just as with all the previous murders of women – and the ones to come.