A terrible reality is born as our State abdicates its duty
Looking back it is always tempting to say you saw it coming. I will resist that enticement. I was certainly blind to the oncoming deluge. Day after day under the stern admonitions of District Justice Murtagh de Burca, I watched the petty criminals of Limerick make their way to the industrial schools and the prisons, a conveyor belt of hopelessness that ensured nothing but recidivism.
The courts reflected the State they served: solid, dispensing justice as best they could, but already out of touch with the changing dynamics of the big council estates.
It was the same addresses always: St Mary's Park, O'Malley Park, and Ballinacurra-Weston. I lived in 'digs' in the latter and knew that the majority of people were law abiding. But a significant core of troubled families in these areas provided the basis for a burgeoning criminal underworld. In those days Limerick crime was still a matter of fists, boots and knives and relatively small pickings.