People in crossfire of depraved drugs warfare will carry their scars for life
The gruesome discovery of a holdall containing severed limbs that was dumped on a suburban street for innocent kids to find represents further proof - not than any was actually needed - of the continuing descent into depravity by young criminal drug gangs.
As of last night, it is strongly suspected the limbs belong to a missing teenager who got sucked into the vortex of the increasingly violent Drogheda gangland feud that has now claimed three lives.
Gardaí had been aware that one of the factions involved in the escalating feud were about to launch a new year offensive against their one-time allies who are now their hated rivals.
A few hours before the shocking discovery was made by a group of innocent teens in the Moatview estate in Coolock on Monday evening, another completely innocent person, this time a taxi driver, also became part of the collateral damage.
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Father-of-two John Myles was shot in the back as he sat in his cab in the middle of Drogheda during the evening rush hour.
The would-be assassins illustrated their complete lack of fear of being caught and scant consideration for the safety of innocent bystanders.
A dark-coloured car pulled up alongside Mr Myles's taxi on the town's Bridge of Peace shortly after 6pm and a number of shots were fired through the window, hitting the innocent taxi driver in the shoulder.
The intended target, a violent thug who has played a big role in escalating the violence, managed to escape from the scene unhurt.
He fled to the local Garda station seeking refuge from the people for whom he normally demonstrates his absolute contempt.
These two shocking events, happening less than four hours apart, are the harbingers that we are heading into another year of gangland violence.
Such violence has become the depressing norm in a society where the insatiable appetite for drugs by the so-called law-abiding middle classes has created a billion-euro alternative underworld economy where violence and death are the preferred means of negotiating market share.
The discovery of the dismembered remains of a human being by a group of youths, all teenagers themselves, and the shooting of the taxi driver illustrates how so many innocent people are being left traumatised and maimed as a result of marauding thugs who place no value on human life or dignity.
What we tend to forget when we read reports of incidents like these is the long-term effects they have on those caught in the crossfire - the victims of collateral damage.
Sure, some kids who live in the area will like to portray themselves as toughened and inured to the street violence around them.
But the reality is that, for the young people who made the grim discovery in Coolock, finding the severed limbs of a murdered human inevitably will cause them trauma that they will never forget.
At the height of the conflagration that engulfed Limerick during the 14-year family blood feud, health and education professionals revealed hundreds of innocent children and teenagers had been left traumatised and psychologically damaged.
This was as a result of the beatings, shootings, bombings and arson attacks that were taking place on the streets of their neighbourhoods on a daily basis.
The same can be said for the innocent Mr Myles who was just doing his job and earning a living when he was shot on Monday evening.
Over the past 30 years, I have met many people in similar situations, several taxi drivers among them, whose lives were turned upside down as a result of being caught in the indiscriminate crossfire of the mobs.
Many of them were unable to work again.
And there is little or no support available - either psychological or financial - to compensate these innocent victims of mob lawlessness.
As we enter the third decade of the new millennium we can be sure of two realities regarding gangland crime and the drugs trade.
First, we can expect to see many more of these gangland bushfires igniting across urban Ireland as more and more young people are beguiled by the "bling" lifestyle of the modern drug dealer.
And - apart from the combatants who are shot dead or injured - there will be many more completely innocent children and adults whose lives will be irrevocably damaged for no other reason than they were in the wrong place at the wrong time when thugs go out to settle old scores.