Sinead Moriarty: What have we done to make such casual savagery a commonplace?
Published 22/11/2013 | 03:00
Yesterday in Tipperary, seven armed men stormed into a house in the dead of night. Was it to attack a group of fellow gang members? Were they retaliating for some injustice involving a drug haul? No, they were robbing a man and his wife and their three very young children.
Why they felt the need to break in, armed to hilt with shotguns, to rob a young family living in rural Tipperary beggars belief.
Why did they then feel obliged to smash the father's nose with the butt of a rifle in front of his three daughters (all under eight years of age) and then tie him and his wife up)?
What kind of a point were they trying to make? Did they think the three girls would attack them? Were they worried that the girls would assault them and try to disarm them? Three small children against seven armed men must have seemed like a worrying prospect.
Why did these men behave is such a savage and violent way towards this poor family? What possible reason could they have had to terrorise these people at 3am?
According to the police all they took was some cash, jewellery and the family's car, a people carrier with child seats across the back.
While we should never accept robbery as correct behaviour it is somelthing that has always been with us.
But why have we moved from people shimmying in your back window when you were out, taking some cash and disappearing, to teams of armed men roaming the countryside terrorising young children?
This family will will need all the support they can get from family and friends and I am are sure they will get it from the local community.
But what those men did is not just assault, rob and frighten this family – they have traumatised them.
It will take a lot of support for the parents to get over the sight of seven men storming into their house.
A parent's job is to protect their children. But how can any parent protect their children from this kind of horror. No small child should ever be exposed to such violence and fear. Nor should any adult, but for an innocent child it's something that could scar them for life. This couple had a business run from their home. They may have been watched and then targeted by this gang for cash.
Thankfully the alarm was raised by the family shortly after the gang left the house, stealing the family car. The gardai responded quickly and both vehicles were apprehended. Seven men have been arrested and are being held in custody.
When did robberies become so sinister and violent? We want to protect our children, but how can anyone protect their child from a gang of armed men?
These kind of incidents raise many questions about the society we live in and how violence, in many forms, now seems to have become so commonplace that we are no longer shocked by a mere robbery. It is only when one thinks of the three children, watching their father being beaten, that the true horror of it all becomes apparent.
In 2010 a new home defence bill was introduced giving Irish homeowners the right to legally to defend themselves if their homes are attacked.
The gardai fully supported the bill saying that "the current situation, which legally demands a house owner retreat from an intruder, was intolerable".
Under the bill, homeowners are allowed to use "reasonable" force against intruders to defend themselves, others or their property. But nobody wants to end up in that situation, especially in their own home.
People are entitled to believe that when they close their front door they are safe from attack. Sadly this family in Tipperary had their illusions shattered. But maybe their suffering will lead to the realisation that this kind of behavour cannot be allowed to continue.