The family of a man shot dead in front of his three-year-old son by the IRA has slammed a Sinn Fein award to the getaway driver in the bank raid in which he died.

Eamon Ryan was just 32 when he was murdered by the IRA during the 1979 robbery at a bank in Waterford.

Now his family have publicly criticised Sinn Fein’s decision to award driver Bill Hayes in recognition of his services to Irish freedom.

IRA men Eamonn Nolan and Aaron O’Connell received life sentences for his murder while Hayes served nine years for his role as a getaway driver.

The Irish Independent reports that Ryan’s widow Bernadette and grown-up children Peter and Dorothy have the special award given by Sinn Fein to Hayes.

The family said: “We note the Le Cheile award given to Bill Hayes for ‘outstanding service to the cause of Irish freedom’ at the 2011 Sinn Fein Ard Fheis.”

The family made their remarks in the wake of the recent murder of policeman Adrian Donohoe during a raid on a credit union in County Louth.

After the Donohoe killing, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams then apologised in the Irish parliament for the first time for the IRA’s murder of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe in 1996.

Waterford Fine Gael deputy Paudie Coffey then called on Adams to deliver a similar apology to the Ryan family.

Adams subsequently issued a statement to the Waterford-based Munster Express newspaper last month expressing his ‘deep regret’ about what had happened.

Ryan’s family have told the Irish Independent that they note the expression of regret by Adams ‘about Eamon’s murder’ and revealed the damage it had caused to them.

They said: “Thirty-four years on from his murder, Eamon’s loss is felt every day by his friends and family.”

Ryan’s sister Mairead Bolger has also criticised Adams for claiming that she had given a ‘positive response’ to the IRA’s previous apology for killing civilians back in 2002.

She told the paper: “That is absolutely rubbish.”

The Real IRA recently photographed at the Dublin funeral of an IRA bossPA