We won't allow the actions of a few thugs drag Limerick down
We all know what challenges we face, but for the majority, the city is a great place to live, says Willie O'Dea
THE brutal and barbaric slaying of two more people in Limerick brought the recent period of relative calm and peace in our city to an abrupt and horrifying end.
The deaths leave more grieving friends and relatives, ruining the lives of so many people today and of future generations.
Every right-thinking citizen in Limerick wants this all to end. There will be no winning side in the feud. All it is achieving is death, serious injuries, mayhem and the imprisonment of another generation of young people.
Garda numbers in Limerick are higher today than at any point. An additional 70 gardai have been deployed to the city in the past 12 months, bringing the total strength to 602 -- an increase of 42 per cent as compared with the end of 1997, when there were 423.
Justice Minister Brian Lenihan has stated that personnel strength will increase further in the course of 2008.
The areas most affected are intensively policed and kept under constant surveillance with armed garda patrols covering these areas of the city on a 24-hour basis.
The Garda also have a range of targeted covert and surveillance operations available for use on a daily basis, including phone intercepts and call-related information. The Force's approach is a "hard policing" one. They have deployed an Emergency Response Unit around the clock. It supports regular policing activities while also providing reassurance to the law-abiding people of Limerick.
No matter how much we spend, even if we had double, treble or quadruple the number of gardai available, no government, of any hue, could be in a position to say it guaranteed the protection of every family.
The government response to the situation in Limerick is not confined to policing.
The problems of disadvantage and social exclusion are being tackled by the multi-agency approach of the Limerick Southside and Northside Regeneration Agencies.
Their plans provide a blueprint for action on an unparalleled scale to help lift these areas out of the cycle of despair.
No one in Limerick underestimates the challenges our city faces, but neither will we allow the actions of a small number drag Limerick's reputation down with them.
Their barbaric actions, and the understandable coverage this receives, are not a fair reflection of daily life in Limerick.
For 99.99 per cent of the population of the city, daily life is as normal, bustling and lively as anywhere in Ireland. For the majority of the people here, Limerick is a good place to live.
A small number want to change that, but they will not succeed. They will learn the truth of Gladstone's words "the resources of civilisation are not exhausted".
Willie O'Dea is Minister of Defence and Fianna Fail TD for Limerick East
Crime crisis, Pages 20, 21, 27