Saturday 1 October 2016

Why a video is worth a thousand words in exposing face of crime

Published 26/05/2016 | 02:30

Gareth Hutch, who was shot dead in Dublin on Tuesday
Gareth Hutch, who was shot dead in Dublin on Tuesday

We know how much easier it is to denounce crime than to prevent it. The Government and the Garda Commissioner have been talking a good game and their intent may be genuine, but the disparity between word and deed has been delineated in the most lurid way in recent days.

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The cold, graphic video of the murder of Gareth Hutch, captured so chillingly on CCTV, has the capacity to be a defining moment in putting an end to the savagery that has been unleashed on our streets - if there is the will to make it so.

Politicians yesterday criticised the circulation of the savage footage by media outlets. In this organisation's case, the Irish Independent published photos of the hooded assassins sneaking up on their victim, Gareth Hutch, in broad daylight. Independent.ie also showed this footage, obviously editing out the moments when the murderers fired their shots.

The political classes believe the public should not be shown these pictures. Why impose this censorship? Within reason, the public have a right to see how murder can be carried out in broad daylight as the price of life has become so cheap on our streets.

The same types of establishment figures also believed the photos in this newspaper of the AK-47-toting killers marching into the Regency Hotel in February dressed as members of the Gardaí should not have been published.

Without the public seeing how blatant that attack was, again in broad daylight, would the political agenda have been dominated by the debate about a lack of Garda resources and the impact that eight years of cutbacks has had on policing? Unlikely.

The public has a right to know the reality on the ground from a media acting in a responsible fashion.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has told the Dáil once more that he is committed to cracking down on crime. But those required to actually put themselves in the line of fire have questioned that resolve.

The Association of Garda Sergeants of Ireland dismisses Mr Kenny's assurances as "rhetoric".

More worryingly, the Garda Representative Association highlighted major difficulties in relation to resources, manpower and training. It points out that there are now 140 fewer gardaí in the Dublin North Central division, where Mr Hutch died in a hail of bullets, than there were four years ago.

The Government has not delivered but has demoralised the force by cutting pay, according to AGSI General Secretary John Jacob.

Just as scathing is the claim that only one in four specialist detectives investigating organised crime is actually trained in how to question suspects.

There is also the fact that the force is still about 3,000 short of the numbers required.

This at a time when the gangs are consolidating their grip, building vast trans-European criminal networks.

The years of neglect cannot be laid exclusively at the hands of a single government. But it is not good enough for the Taoiseach and the Garda Commissioner to speak in unison on how well-resourced the force is, while those charged with putting their lives on the line in our name claim the opposite.

Surely we have heard enough.

We need to see a vigorous and united response to the murdering gangsters who have been allowed to grow as the resources of the Garda have diminished.

Irish Independent

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