Murder rate soars across Ireland
Ireland's murder rate has soared despite an overall drop in most types of crime across the country.
Latest official figures show 60 people were murdered between March last year and the same month this year.
The figure is up more than 36% - from 44 - for the same period the previous year.
Overall, killings - which include manslaughter and dangerous driving leading to death - have increased by more than a fifth (23%).
However, continuing the trend of recent years most types of criminal activity have dipped.
Recorded sex offences, threats, negligence, robbery, burglary, fraud, deception, weapons offences and public order offences have all come down.
There was a more than 6% rise in kidnapping and related offences, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) report shows.
Theft is also on the up, by more than 2% over the same period.
There was also a very slight rise in drugs offences.
The sharpest decrease in criminal activity was among damage to property and the environment, down almost 9%; weapons and explosives offences, down nearly 8%; and a 6% drop in attempts or threats to murder, assault or harassment.
Acting Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan said the large increase in murders was not down to organised crime but remained a concern for the force.
"I would appeal to everyone to consider the terrible impact this crime has," she said.
"Not only has someone lost their life, but communities, and more importantly, families and friends will face years of devastation and grief in an attempt to come to terms with the loss of a loved one.
"It is imperative that people think about the potentially devastating consequences of their actions before they act as lives can be changed in an instant."
Ms O'Sullivan vowed to vigorously pursue all murder investigations and said a large number of arrests have already been made in relation to murders carried out at the start of this year.
The Garda chief praised her rank and file for the continuing drop in overall crime.
"The continuing hard work and dedication of members of An Garda Siochana is demonstrated in the fall in 10 of the 14 crime groups," she said.
"This could not have been achieved without the close partnership we enjoy with communities."
Despite the overall decline in most crimes, Fianna Fail's justice spokesman Niall Collins called for more resources and investment in frontline policing.
"The Garda ranks need a boost," he said.
"The Government needs to recognise that getting more for less only goes so far and that it is time for new investment in the Gardai."
Mr Collins said technology, equipment and the garda vehicles all need to be upgraded.
"Expanding frontline policing and improving garda resources will go a long way towards boosting garda morale, increasing public confidence and reducing crime rates," he added.