Friday 28 October 2016

'Extreme cases' becoming the norm yet TDs obsess on water

Published 27/04/2016 | 02:30

'The events of Monday night barely got a mention in our paralysed Dáil'. Photo:
'The events of Monday night barely got a mention in our paralysed Dáil'. Photo:

There is a standard approach that broadcast media take in the hours after a murder. A reporter makes their way out to the area and begins a 'vox pop', asking local residents for their reaction.

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Normally the stunned neighbours tell how they live in a "quiet area" and "nothing like this has ever happened around here before".

But listening to 'Morning Ireland' yesterday, there was no sense of shock or surprise that two gunmen could charge into the well-known Sunset House pub at 9.15pm on a Monday night and blast a man to death. They told how it's always in the back of their mind that something might happen. Their children had read all about it on Facebook.

It was February 3 when Enda Kenny dissolved the Dáil, shook hands with Tánaiste Joan Burton outside Government Buildings and took off on a three-week campaign that was supposed to focus on the 'Celtic comeback'.

Two days later, gunmen burst into the Regency Hotel and shot David Byrne dead. The images of the gunmen, dressed as gardaí and armed with AK47s captured by this newspaper went around the world.

Mr Kenny called it an "extreme case", while his party colleague Richard Bruton said it was a "new low in that sort of criminal activity".

Sky News, BBC and other international broadcasters arrived in Dublin to report on the 'gangland culture'.

For days crime dominated the election debate, putting Fine Gael - the party of 'law and order' - on the back foot, leaving Sinn Féin with questions to answer over their plans to abolish the Special Criminal Courts and Fianna Fáil rewriting history on why garda stations were closed.

But most people assumed, wrongly, that it was an isolated incident. The scenes of armed gardaí on the streets of Dublin was a hyperbolic reaction to reassure people in the face of those shocking pictures published on the front page of the Irish Independent.

But then three days later came the brazen murder of innocent taxi driver Eddie Hutch at his Ballybough home.

By February 9, the Government agreed to spend an extra €5m to fund garda overtime and the Garda Commissioner insisted she had enough resources to deal with the crisis.

Since then, the election has come and gone, along with the innocence of children in parts of our capital who have become used to passing armed gardaí on their way to school.

During the 11 weeks since the Regency murders, the gang bosses have proven more efficient than our political leaders.

Since Eddie Hutch's death, three more lives have been lost in the Kinahan/Hutch feud. And still last night our politicians were arguing over water charges.

Of course all parties have expressed outrage at the latest murders - but talk is cheap. We need political leadership now more than ever to turn outrage into action.

Yet the events of Monday night barely got a mention in our paralysed Dáil.

Irish Independent

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