Monday 23 January 2017

How did we get here? We compromised on violence

This State has long been characterised by an ambivalence to violence, hence machine guns on the street now, writes Brendan O'Connor

Published 14/02/2016 | 02:30

Tony Golden. Photo: PA
Tony Golden. Photo: PA

Two shocking images in the past 10 days. Both with machine guns. First, two men entering a hotel in Dublin dressed as gardai, toting modified AK47s. They were, of course, only there to get their own. But still, it was a little too close to our lives for comfort. Most of us, if we are to be honest, don't worry overly when these guys hit each other in the Costa del Sol or in gangster pubs. Whether it's right or wrong, there can be a sense that these guys chose a lifestyle. They knew what they were getting into. Life seems to be that bit cheaper for these guys. Many of them have murdereded themselves, ordered people killed. It almost feels like another world to the rest of us, like something happening on Love/Hate.

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But what happened at the Regency Hotel last Friday week was a bit too close to our lives. This wasn't some gang-banger pub we know to stay away from. This was a hotel where people like us could be having a cup of coffee, a business meeting, a weekend in Dublin.

And then, during the week, it came closer. This time the guys with the machine guns were the good guys. Again dressed as cops, and this time on the streets of Dublin, apparently for our protection. And somehow this was more shocking. When did Dublin become the kind of place where cops in assault gear with machine guns need to patrol the streets?

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