Monday 26 September 2016

Taoiseach will hope for return of calm on capital's streets

Published 10/02/2016 | 02:30

The Scene of the shooting dead of Eddie Hutch Snr on Poplar Row. PA
The Scene of the shooting dead of Eddie Hutch Snr on Poplar Row. PA

Armed gangsters going about murdering one another in central Dublin is definitely inimical to Enda Kenny's chances of returning to Government Buildings.

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How do we know there's an election on? Well, we have a promptly-promised €5m spend on "saturation policing", with regular and visible police checkpoints and a 55-strong armed garda unit based in the capital. Now more than ever, the would-be party of law and order must live up to its reputation and get a handle on gangster crime.

We often say politics is a brutal business - but when we say it we do not often take stock of just how brutal a business it all is. All human life is precious.

But gangsters, who with full knowledge and consent enter the netherworld of selling drugs which ruin young lives, and then recklessly engage in lethal rivalry with other gangsters, may on occasion reap what they sow. The average law-abiding person is entitled to have more concern for the lives of innocent bystanders. And nobody wants to see fundamental laws flouted on the streets of our capital city.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald will hope that her prompt response works promptly. This is happening on her watch. And for the next 16 days, until polling day, this Government needs calm to return to heavily-policed Dublin streets.

A significantly-resourced garda force got to grips with rampant thuggery in Limerick a decade ago. Everybody will hope that this Government's response will deliver similar results for Dublin immediately.

No political party entered this election campaign fearing that crime would take such a huge chunk of public attention while vote-seekers pound the beat. The Government had assumed that the public's strong sense of unease and insecurity in the face of the growing crime scourge would be trumped by promises of money in the pocket.

Now the two governing parties - and especially Fine Gael - stand to lose most by the outrageous murder last Friday and again on Monday night. Protecting citizens' security is a fundamental government obligation.

The governing parties naturally tried to push blame in the direction of Fianna Fáil for the garda recruitment ban. That parcel-passing will not work after five years in government.

In fact there may be a small dividend from this dreadful political "ill-wind department" for Fianna Fáil. They were swift and unequivocal in backing the Special Criminal Court to deal with witness and jury intimidation.

Sinn Féin find themselves in a bad place on all of this. This is not a good time to remind people that they oppose the Special Criminal Court which is of course a legacy issue for them and their IRA political cousins.

Irish Independent

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