Northern Ireland news

Gardaí honoured for bravery 41 years after IRA ambush

Michael Clerkin's brother Peter, left, with three retired gardaí awarded the Scott medal over the 1976 IRA bomb attack

FIVE garda caught up in an IRA booby-trap bomb 41 years ago including one who died in the blast were formally honoured yesterday for their bravery.

Michael Clerkin died and his four colleagues were seriously injured when the bomb went off while they responded to an anonymous call threatening the life of former defence minister Oliver J Flanagan in October 1976.

The Scott trust medal for bravery was awarded posthumously to the late Mr Clerkin (24), alongside James Cannon, Thomas Peters, Ben Thornton and Gerry Bohan.

They were investigating a tip-off that an IRA gang was at a vacant house on the Laois-Offaly border plotting an attack on Mr Flanagan, but the warning was a hoax and the property boobytrapped.

Mr Flanagan's son, the current justice minister Charlie Flanagan, described it as a personal and poignant moment for him.

Speaking at the award ceremony at Garda College, Templemore, the justice minister praised all 34 members of An Garda Síochána recognised at the event for their bravery.

"It is a fact that the men and women of An Garda Síochána, every single day put themselves in harm's way in order that we may go about our lawful business and enjoy the right to live safely in our communities," he said.

Among the others honoured was Garda Tony Golden, who was shot dead in Omeath, Co Louth, in October 2015 while helping a woman to leave a violent relationship.

His wife Nicola accepted the posthumous gold medal, while his colleague Garda Gerard O'Callaghan who went into the house after he heard the shots that day also received an award.

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