Road tragedies drum home safety message
Published 26/12/2015 | 02:30
The deaths of two people on our roads on Christmas Day - and injuries to two others - represent a tragedy for all of us at a particularly poignant time of the year.
The deaths have left two families in deep mourning at a time which for most of us is the brightest occasion of the year.
It brings 2015 to a desperately sad end, particularly given that the number of road deaths this year is 28 fewer than in 2014.
Sometimes, road conditions are beyond our control. Driving conditions throughout December have been dreadful: storms have brought wind, record levels of rainfall, floods - and then more of the same. Standing pools of water, icy conditions and strong winds make driving more hazardous than usual, particularly at night.
But on occasions, all of us are capable of doing more to keep the roads a safer place. All who use our highways must heed the safety message delivered by the road safety authorities.
If we set our minds to it, we can all help to make 2016 a better year for road safety.
We must all play a part in tackling crime gangs
As we prepare to welcome a new year, it behoves us all to take a look back at 2015 and assess the year just gone and what dangers could pose risks to our way of life. Reports in today's paper set out the threats posed to us all by so-called 'travelling gangs' and tiger kidnappers who will stop at nothing to attain their criminal ends.
With highly mobile gangs of raiders roaming the country in carefully targeted criminal enterprises - often equipped with weapons and high-powered cars stolen to order - gardaí have their work cut out to prevent and detect such operations.
Ironically, the improvements we have made in society - such as better road infrastructure and transport links - are being used by the criminals to maximum effect to ply their nefarious trade.
As is made clear in today's report, a lynchpin in the operations of such gangs is the receiver of their easily disposable stolen goods.
We may think that receivers are shady characters working out of dark dens on anonymous backstreets.
But anyone prepared to buy jewellery or electronic goods suspecting they are ill-gotten gains, or who is prepared to not ask serious questions about where they came from, is equally culpable.
Though we all like a bargain, it should be clear that if items on a market stall are being sold at prices that are too good to be true, then there is a problem - either with the goods themselves or their provenance.
Anybody who has ever bought shady goods from dodgy sources is a link in a chain of crime that encourages these individuals in their activities.
New legislation that will give gardaí and the Criminal Assets Bureau more powers and streamline the fight against these roaming gangs is to be welcomed.
But we should remember that we all have our part to play in stamping out this insidious form of crime.