Violent deaths up by 27pc
THE number of violent killings in Ireland has jumped by 27pc in just one year.
New figures show that there were 85 murders or manslaughters in the 12-month-period to March of this year, compared with 67 in the previous 12 months.
However, due to changes in the way deaths in dangerous driving cases are now classified, the figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show that the 17 killings in the first quarter of 2008 were down significantly on last year -- 47pc fewer than the 33 recorded in the same period last year.
Other findings from the first three months of this year show that sexual assaults were down by almost a third to 271 compared with the same period last year, while there was an increase of almost 30pc in drug offences.
The number of burglary and related offences was up 14.3pc to 6,703 while disorderly conduct offences jumped by 27pc.
Yesterday, Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy called for a renewed partnership between gardai and the community in tackling crimes such as burglary and theft.
However, opposition parties claimed that serious crime was "spiralling" under the Government, with the number of murders, drug and firearm offences "soaring".
"After 10 years of Fianna Fail Government, Ireland has become a more vicious and violent place," said Fine Gael's justice spokesman, Charlie Flanagan. He pointed out that gardai in most counties did not even have a digital radio network and called for the minister to move immediately to address gangland crime head-on.
Labour's Pat Rabbitte also criticised the Government's track record on crime, pointing to the significant increase in public order offences, which jumped by 8pc in just a year.
Justice Minister Dermot Ahern and Commissioner Murphy both acknowledged that the levels of serious crimes were up, but insisted that they were working to reduce them.
"The overall picture the figures paint serves to reinforce the Government's determination to continue with its programme of providing unprecedented resources for those in the front line fighting crime," Mr Ahern said.
Commissioner Murphy said that the levels of burglary were of particular concern.
"We would appeal once again to people to not leave their homes and property vulnerable to criminals who are looking for an easy profit," he said.
He added that he hadbrought his management team and all operational chief superintendents together last week to discuss the current crime levels.