Saturday 25 January 2020

Let's not give this arrogant smug thug the attention he craves

Now that his 'homecoming' party is over, the convicted gangster will fade from the limelight, says Nicky Larkin

Nicky Larkin

As far as media whores come, there's only one smug thug up there with Miley Cyrus at the moment. His only true love is seeing his name in the paper. So I'm not even going to say it.

After 17 years, his day has finally come. The smug thug emerged from Portlaoise prison, grinning from ear to ear in his trademark Armani shirt. He hopped into a waiting car and was whisked up to Dublin for a drinking session in his brother's house in Clondalkin.

But what can we do about this? We should stop talking about him for a start. We should deprive him of his true love – infamy. We should take away the disgusting celebrity status he craves. We should stop saying his name, and stop publishing his picture. Gerry Adams had a voice ban for years, so why not apply the same principle to this unsavoury individual?

That smug grin is more unsettling than the graphic images on the front of cigarette packages. Just like lung cancer, we don't need to see pictures of him every day to know he exists.

When he arrived in Dublin, his brother's terraced house was decorated with balloons and bunting and tacky 'Welcome Home' stick-on signs. A far cry from poncing around Jessbrook pretending to know about stallions.

Before his release, the smug thug arrogantly issued a letter through his solicitor saying he wouldn't speak to any media whatsoever, not even for a million euro. But then a few days – and a few cans of Dutch Gold – later, he was outside his brother's house, waffling away to anyone who'd listen about how he'd nothing to do with the murder of Veronica Guerin. Unbelievably, he then went as far as to announce to the waiting media that they "shouldn't be writing about innocent people", before going back inside to neck a few more cans.

So is this man insane, deluded, or just the same evil little gangster we locked away in the first place? In his 17 years of incarceration, has he somehow managed to convince himself he was doing us all a favour, overseeing his international crime empire? Providing much-needed employment before the Tiger took off? Does he really see himself as an innocent victim in all of this?

Or is he just the same smug little thug, intent on peddling his denials all the way to the grave?

In the end, it doesn't really matter. He's finished his time on the inside, so now the onus is on us here on the outside. We need to adopt a radically different approach to our coverage of this little fat man. The old saying goes that for tyranny to exist, all it takes is for decent people to say nothing. But in this case for tyranny to exist, all it takes is for people to keep on talking...

Incredibly, while the smug thug was prancing and preening for photos outside the doorway, his brother asked the gathered press to take pictures of his battered motorcycle, explaining that he was trying to sell it. Between that and the convicted gangster's attempt to defend 'the innocent', you actually couldn't script this type of carry-on. And if you did nobody would believe you.

His release was always going to be big news. But once all the cans have been drunk and the photographers have lost interest, what's he going to do to keep himself in the limelight he so craves?

The gardai have said they're going to watch him closely, in case he attempts to rebuild his criminal empire. But times have changed, it's all Love/Hate these days, and the elderly little thug would be no match for the likes of Nidge and his crew.

He lacks the manpower, and the respect of the criminal underworld. He's cost some very shady people an awful lot of money – some estimate as much as €250m. But then every cloud has a silver lining; at least he'll soon qualify for the bus pass.

So we need to tie a firm knot in the thick vein that keeps his Napoleon-syndrome pumping.

Because behind that sickening grin and proclamations that he's not hiding from anyone, the smug little thug must surely sleep lightly.

Sunday Independent

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