Sunday 18 February 2018

Gene Kerrigan: A sensational and startling case in a time of innocence

As Malcolm Macarthur is released from jail, Gene Kerrigan explains why we remember his crimes so vividly

Malcolm Macarthur was an appalling person who killed two people because he couldn't think of anything better to do. He had a plan, it was a stupid plan -- and the killings derived not from some inbred desire to kill but from a willingness to do whatever was necessary to get what he wanted.

The reason we of the older generation remember him so vividly is that the Macarthur case was a sensation at a time of relative innocence. The scandals that would undermine so much of public life hadn't yet been found out. The circumstances of Macarthur's arrest made the case startling -- although the crimes themselves were quite straightforward. The reasons he murdered two people were shatteringly banal.

Malcolm MacArthur was from a wealthy background and had inherited a large amount of money in the Seventies and had grown used to a life of leisure. He liked swanning around Dublin, drinking pints and portraying himself as a "character". Complete with bow-tie and an air of what he seemed to believe was sophistication.

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