Ian O'Doherty: The police should be protecting innocent victims -- not thugs
A man I know was leaving a club last Saturday night. As he and his friend were walking down the road they saw a guy lying prone on the ground, either unconscious or badly injured.
So, being stand-up blokes they did what we should all do -- they went over to check that he was okay.
As they bent over the stricken individual, he suddenly lunged up from the ground and grabbed one of them as a gang rushed out from a laneway and assaulted the pair.
The two lads are now in hospital, one of them with a badly shattered jaw, fractured eye socket and multiple bruising while his friend has several broken ribs and various assorted injuries.
All for wanting to help someone they thought was in distress.
The gang of Eastern Europeans responsible for the attack have done this before and their modus operandi is one of extreme violence -- for example, in this instance, a large blunt object, believed to be a hammer, was used to repeatedly strike one of the would-be rescuers around the head, causing serious damage.
Both of these good Samaritans are now looking at who knows how many months off work, and all the loss of earnings that will entail, as well as the physical and psychological recuperation they will have to undergo.
Their families are devastated and their friends and colleagues are furious at what has happened.
But they are not surprised.
This is the Dublin of 2012, a place where you can have your life changed utterly for committing the simple crime of going to someone's aid.
If you think you have read me on this subject before, you're right.
Because an old mate of mine died after he was felled by a single punch while walking home one night.
When I wrote about his stupid, squalid, pointless death, the reaction was enormous -- and deeply distressing.
Everyone who reads the column, particularly those who live in Dublin, had a similar story, to one degree or another, about random acts of violence on our streets.
The horror stories came in thick and fast -- from overtly aggressive and intimidating beggars to aggressive pedestrians and motorists to muggings and unprovoked assaults.
Grown men were unashamed to admit that they were afraid for their safety when they ventured into town at night.
Since I wrote that piece a few months back, another of my friends was battered on Dame Street and left in a bad way.
Well, there's never a good reason, but on this occasion his crime was to be gay.
So, one guy I know died on a night out, another was chased into traffic on one of Dublin's busiest streets and given a hiding and another is now looking at months off work and has to have his jaw wired shut.
That's one serious assault every few weeks just amongst the people I know, so you can only imagine the true figure of attacks in this city.
That's why I fully applaud Alan Shatter's remarks earlier this week that gangsters who "avoid" the gardai cannot expect the full-time protection of said gardai when they feel their lives are in danger.
This, to me, seems simple to the point of being blatantly obvious. If you're a gangster you can't have it both ways.
In fact, everyone I spoke to agreed with Shatter and that's not something you see every day when it comes to this most divisive of justice ministers.
After all, the phrase 'outlaw' means someone who has placed themselves outside the restrictions of the law and by doing so has automatically given up any expectation of protection for the law he has abandoned.
And that's exactly what the Dublin gangsters who are currently bumping each other off at an enthusiastic rate have done.
Yet despite the obvious common sense and sheer practicality of the minister's words, there have been calls for his resignation from the families of some of the gangland victims, with one of them branding his remarks as "callous and cruel".
Now, the grief of the relative of the victim of a gangland hit is every bit as valid and honest as the grief of the relatives of anyone who has died. Of that there is no question.
But that doesn't change the simple fact that if you live by the gun, you can't really complain when you die by the gun.
Because, with a few tragic exceptions, those murdered in the ongoing feuds in our capital city are to all intents and purposes active service members of a terrorist organisation who knew exactly what they were getting into.
So, when I see the relatives of those murdered hoodlums complain about not having enough support and protection from the police, I wonder one thing -- where was the support and protection for my mate?
Where was the support and protection for my friend who was chased down the middle of a busy street and battered? Where was the support and protection for the guy who is now going to spend the next few months with his jaw wired shut?
They're the ones the gardaí should be protecting, not the criminals who have chose the thug life over the citizen's way.