There will be no similar funerary ritual for the killer of Garda Golden, Adrian Crevan Mackin, no matter how many tricolours might be placed over his coffin. The only conceivable reason to even consider putting the national flag on the coffin of Mackin would be to conceal it from public view much in the same way as people making court appearances often have their faces covered.
A report in the Irish News seemed to capture the mood:
Mackin’s body had lain unclaimed in the morgue of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda as the families of both his victims received outpourings of support from both sides of the border. However, sources confirmed on Thursday night the murderer's remains had been taken from the hospital and quietly brought to Newry by a local funeral director. A no-fuss funeral, out of the glare of the media, is expected to take place within days.
Mackin, despite claiming to be a republican, posed virtually no threat to Britain and very much a grave threat to Irish society with his penchant for violence. Tony Golden, by contrast, died performing a vital societal function: he responded to a distress call from a vulnerable member of the public seeking refuge from a violent thug and paid for it with his life. An act more steeped in a republican ethos than anything Mackin seems to have accomplished.
Tony Golden is the 88th Garda to have been killed “while on active service for the force” since the formation of the state. While most likely nothing more than an act of gratuitous viciousness, the thought occurred to me that Mackin, having inherited a traditional armed republican hostility towards Gardaí, might have laboured under some warped notion that as a republican there was an established precedent which he could call upon to legitimise his homicidal foray: an inherited and induced dissolvent of the standard moral inhibition against murder.
A considerable number of those 88 dead lost their lives to the Provisional IRA. That organisation’s former chief of staff Martin McGuinness, on whose watch gardaí were killed, was reminded during his bid for the Irish Presidency that he had at one time outlined the circumstances in which IRA members could shoot gardaí or members of the Irish Defence Force. He told Hot Press magazine that gardaí could only be shot “in certain circumstances, like in Ballinamore where IRA volunteers felt they were going to be shot dead and were defending themselves against armed gardaí and soldiers.”
McGuinness, sensing that such an assertion must ring murderously maniacal in today’s world, later resiled from his comments. No longer the director of the IRA’s war machine and currently deputy to the North’s First Minister, Peter Robinson, the Derry politician, probably acquiescing to “needs must” rather than a genuine democratic imperative, later claimed he could not remember making those comments but if he did they were absolutely wrong. ”I don’t recall that interview. I am totally and absolutely opposed to any attack.”
In this society where citizens often come into conflict with the State over issues like water charges and political policing there are many good reasons to be critical of An Garda Síochána. There are no good reasons for killing them.