Tuesday 17 September 2019

Brass-neck award for ex-IRA man

Angelo Fusco
Angelo Fusco

Every now and then a story comes along which contains such open, flamboyant brazenness that you simply have to stand back and applaud.

This week's winner of the brass-neck award is a unanimous one.

Frankly, I doubt anyone will ever top Angelo Fusco's case this week.

Mr Fusco (pictured) is a convicted murderer and a former member of the IRA.

He also, as his past perhaps indicates, quite likes guns.

When he applied in Kerry for a gun licence to obtain a Baikal shotgun, the local gardaí did a background check and discovered that Fusco has been convicted in his absence in Belfast Crown Court in 1981.

He received six 99-year sentences in relation to firearms with intent, being a member of a proscribed organisation, murder and attempted murder.

Oh, and he also had a shoot out with the police before going on the run to Kerry.

Now, you might have thought that anyone with a record like that would have known they were chancing their arm if they ever thought they'd be allowed to have a gun.

But poor Mr Fusco is obviously an idealist and he believed that Good Friday Agreement had washed all his sins away and he was just as entitled to a gun as anyone else.

It was a forlorn hope, sadly.

After all, even the notoriously lax American system of gun ownership would surely look askance at someone who had once received a combined sentence of 594 years for various firearms related offences.

But angry at the refusal to grant him the licence he so desired, he went to court to appeal the decision, as is his right.

The judge there gave him equally short shrift, despite the stellar character witnesses he had gathered around him to testify to his good nature and pleasant disposition.

And who was the chief character witness for our put-upon hero?

Why, step forward Martin Ferris, Sinn Féin TD for Kerry, who served time in prison for his involvement in a plot to smuggle seven tonnes of guns and bombs on board the Marita Ann in 1984.

It might seem perfectly reasonable to suggest that someone who has a criminal history with guns should probably never be allowed to have one.

While some people have expressed outrage at Mr Fusco for even daring to secure a licence, I have to admire his gumption and, particularly, his choice of character witness.

What was the phrase I'm looking for again?

Oh yeah it's this one - with friends like that, etc.

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