Wednesday 26 October 2016

It's time for urgent action to take these killers off our streets

Published 25/05/2016 | 02:30

Taoiseach Enda Kenny outside Leinster House. Photo: Tom Burke
Taoiseach Enda Kenny outside Leinster House. Photo: Tom Burke

Only when money matters more than life can you have six murders within four months. And in gangland, money is all that matters. This happens insidiously when the law of the street subverts the law of the land. It creates a lethal space where decency, humanity, and respect for law and the right to live peacefully, are all seen as signs of weakness. We can not allow such an arid killing zone to be established in the heart of our capital city.

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Yesterday's cutting down of Gareth Hutch - which makes him the seventh victim in the gangland war with the Kinahan drug cartel - tells us much about the clinical ruthlessness of the killers.

We have learned once again that the murderers have no fear of being impeded. They will strike at will, where they choose, whether it is in broad daylight or under the cloak of midnight. And they will undoubtedly murder again; unless, that is, they are stopped. It is pertinent to ask what does it tell us about the kind of society that we have become?

Are we to accept that human life is now so worthless and expendable that we are not prepared to resource the gardaí to take these gun-toting assassins off our streets for good? We might also remind ourselves that caught in the crossfire is an innocent and terrorised community.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has said the killers need to be told that what they are doing is evil and despicable.

Unfortunately, this situation has escalated beyond words - however well intentioned. What anyone says or thinks means nothing. It has moved on to what we are prepared to do to stop the murder cycle.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny - leader of the party of law and order - was challenged yesterday to visit the area where these murders are now becoming sickeningly frequent by Councillor Nial Ring, who said: "We really feel helpless and we need help . . . I don't think there's another part of this city or part of this country where seven people could be shot dead within a short period of time that something wouldn't be done and we are calling on the Minister for Justice and the Taoiseach to get down here."

For her part, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has said the murder was an "outrageous attack on law and order". Condemnation is most effective when accompanied by action.

Challenged by Micheál Martin in the Dáil on what the Government was doing, Mr Kenny said: "This is a dispute between two families . . .", adding that he does not think he can stop that. Nor would he be expected to, but this unprecedented number of gangland killings - seven in just nine months - has to stop and Mr Kenny must guarantee that there is a policing response commensurate with the level of threat. Last week, we saw gardaí march to the Dáil in protest. There is a worrying level of dissatisfaction and low morale within the force that must be addressed.

Mr Kenny said: "I think, from the Government point of view, we can provide the resources and the wherewithal that the Garda Commissioner needs to have her forces deal with this in the way they have to.'' Mr Kenny said senior gardaí had assured him the resources were available to tackle this issue. But several reports on the gardaí have highlighted deficiencies from antiquated computers to outdated fleets.

So while assurances may be genuine, what matters more is urgent action, taking the power to murder and build up billion-euro crime empires away from the gangs.

The drug gangs are waging a war and, by their terms, the only crime is to lose. But lose they must. However hard these thugs think they are, the law must always be harder.

Irish Independent

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