YOUNG men are continuing to resort to the knife in violent disputes, a garda analysis has revealed.
One-third of knife crime offenders are under the age of 20, the figures indicate. Nine out of 10 offenders are male, as are seven out of 10 victims.
The results of the analysis were disclosed as annual figures showed that knives were used in 14 murders this year, up by one on 2011.
Gardai have detected 13 of the 14 murders including two fatal stabbings this month in Rialto in Dublin's south inner city, and in Ballymun on the northside of the capital.
The exception is the death of Shane O'Connor, pictured. He was found with knife wounds on St Donagh's Road in Donaghmede, Dublin, early on October 29. He died a short time later.
Crimestoppers have offered a reward for information about the stabbing.
Although knife crime has dropped substantially in the past five years, the death of German student Thomas Heinrich outside his apartment complex in Rialto provoked a national debate and highlighted the easy accessibility of knives.
However, while there were claims of a new epidemic of knife crime, this is not backed up by the figures. An amnesty six years ago resulted in almost 350 weapons – including knives – being handed in.
But the rate of stabbing fatalities continued to increase over the next two years, with figures for 2007 showing a worrying 50pc rise in knife-related homicides, up to 36 from 18 the previous year and accounting for more than 40pc of all murders and manslaughters.
It dropped to 15 in 2008 and since then has remained fairly constant – although tougher penalties for possessing a knife in a public place were introduced.
A garda analysis shows over two-thirds of the crimes take place between 5pm and 5am with the peak period between 9pm and 11pm.
Gardai advised people to take extra care in potential flashpoint areas such as late-night queues outside pubs, nightclubs and fast food outlets.
If challenged by a thug with a knife, people are advised to leave the area immediately and report the incident to gardai.