Depravity of attacks an affront to us all

Published 02/10/2012 | 16:13

THE 30,000 people who marched solemnly through the streets of Melbourne on Sunday in solidarity with the grief-stricken family of murder victim Jill Meagher made an extraordinarily powerful statement to the world about their revulsion at such an appalling atrocity. It was something communities throughout Ireland could learn from.

Ever since the first reports emerged that the young married woman was missing, it seems the entire country was hoping against hope that she would be turn up safe and well. When it was learned last Thursday that she had been raped, murdered and buried in a shallow grave on the outskirts of Melbourne the county was united in shock and sadness.

In Melbourne the feeling was the same, not just among the Irish where numbers have been swelled by a tidal wave of emigration, but in the broader community as well. On Sunday 30,000 people from the Melbourne community â?“ Australians, Irish and others â?“ marched through the suburb of Brunswick in an expression of sympathy and solidarity with Jill Meagher's grieving family and to express their disgust at the shocking crime that took her life. Many of the demonstrators carried placards calling for an end to violence and supporting women's right to be able to walk the streets without fear at night.

The ad hoc organisers of the march though it might be attended by dozens of people and they were astounded when, instead, tens of thousands joined in an unequivocal demonstration of their community's values. What they were saying was that this kind of depravity has no place among us; we are better than this.

It is something we could do well to replicate here in Ireland where the most appallingly violent and brutal crimes have become so common that they pass by with little comment. Among these are brutal attacks on the elderly, something so depraved and barbaric that they mock the idea of a civilised society.

Just two weeks ago Sligo pensioner Eugene Gillespie suffered an unthinkably cruel death when he was tied to a chair and savagely beaten after he innocently answered a knock on his door. His arms and legs were so tightly bound that blood stopped flowing to them and he was beaten so badly that his jaw was broken and he suffered bleeding to his brain.

Only days later, 57-year-old council worker Patsy Deasy died after being assaulted outside a pub in Cork where he had been at a 60th birthday party. Then there were the gangland assassinations of two men in front of their children in Dublin and Laois and, on a lesser scale, there are the drunken assaults and random acts of violence that have left people afraid to walk the streets in towns the length and breadth of Ireland.

This is an unconscionable level of violence that demeans the society in which we live. We have seen demonstrations against health cuts and tax hikes that are considered unfair and unjust.

Perhaps we could learn from the people of Melbourne and also take to the streets to demonstrate to the thugs and gangsters who rob people of their right to feel safe and secure that the community is united against them and that we can be better than this.

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