Tuesday 19 November 2019

Glasgow has shaken off its rough image - but evil can lurk anywhere

Glasgow Caledonian University, where Karen Buckley was a student. Photo: Mark Condren
Glasgow Caledonian University, where Karen Buckley was a student. Photo: Mark Condren

Tom Sweeney

It was only relatively recently that Glasgow managed to cast off its reputation as a rough, tough place to be feared and avoided, though the harsh accent delivered at a hundred miles an hour still often makes "good morning" sound like a threat.

As recently as the 1980s, wandering the streets alone late at night, especially while wearing the 'wrong' football colours, would have been an act of supreme folly.

But that was then. My home town has changed immeasurably for the better, even if it still isn't advisable to go for a pint around Ibrox in a Celtic shirt.

Two decades of regeneration have turned the heart of the city into a vibrant place to live, work and socialise, but no amount of investment can hide the fact that evil lurks in every community, as the awful tragedy of Karen Buckley attests.

While the incidence of violent crime has been falling, thanks in large part to zero-tolerance legislation against carrying knives and a relentless crackdown on gangs, you're still three times as likely to die of a stab wound in Scotland than in England or Wales.

That said, I would feel a lot safer walking home at night along Sauchiehall Street or Belfast's Bradbury Place than O'Connell Street, which can be downright scary when darkness descends.

Sanctuary nightclub, from which Karen went missing and which remained closed last night as a mark of respect, is in the generally well-to-do West End and was celebrating its second anniversary on Saturday night when the Cork nurse and her friends arrived.

The venue is a favourite with students from nearby Glasgow Caledonian University and Glasgow University and with visitors - the city has been enjoying a tourist boom and is among the top five long-weekend destinations in the UK.

Out-of-towners who ask taxi drivers to take them to a good club are invariably dropped off at Sanctuary, which is known for its policy of looking after its customers and not putting up with any messing. It's far from being some seedy establishment or last-chance saloon where pie-eyed punters turn up when everywhere else is closed. Karen and her pals would have known this.

Nearby Great Western Road and Byres Road are home to umpteen fancy restaurants and wine bars and some of the city's most-popular pubs.

Irish accents, which used to be a rarity, are now heard everywhere, and many pub owners consider young staff from the Republic an attraction for customers.

The fact that Karen so cruelly lost her young life in the place where I was born and grew up and never tire of visiting - a city that has improved no end from when I was a child - makes this morning's headlines even sadder reading.

The tourist board's marketing slogan is "People Make Glasgow".

Today, this terrible death has made the people of Glasgow sick.

Irish Independent

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