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Editorial: 'Gruesome murder is new wake-up call'

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'We have been here before. Nothing less is required now in Drogheda, Co Louth, than was put in place in Limerick in 2011 when gardai proved hugely successful in tackling rival families who had wrought a reign of terror there' (stock photo)

'We have been here before. Nothing less is required now in Drogheda, Co Louth, than was put in place in Limerick in 2011 when gardai proved hugely successful in tackling rival families who had wrought a reign of terror there' (stock photo)

Niall Carson/PA Wire

'We have been here before. Nothing less is required now in Drogheda, Co Louth, than was put in place in Limerick in 2011 when gardai proved hugely successful in tackling rival families who had wrought a reign of terror there' (stock photo)

It is almost four years to the day since the country was shocked by an audacious organised crime attack at the then Regency Hotel in Dublin, in which a leading figure in so-called 'gangland' criminality was murdered. That brazen killing, which also took place at the start of a general election, gave rise to a so-called and ongoing gangland 'feud' between two rival families in Dublin, which has claimed the lives of a litany of figures in the intervening years.

Four years later, and at the start of another election campaign, an even more shocking murder has taken place, this time of a 17-year-old boy caught up in the next generation of gangland which is laying claim to a lucrative illegal drugs trade which stretches from north Dublin throughout the entire north-eastern region of the country.

The gruesome details of the murder of this child have deeply disturbed a nation which may have been becoming somewhat anaesthetised to the troubling events in 'gangland' over the past four years. This latest murder is a wake-up call to all, not least the authorities, from policymakers to gardai, who are responsible for the provision of security and the administration of justice in this country.

We have been here before. Nothing less is required now in Drogheda, Co Louth, than was put in place in Limerick in 2011 when gardai proved hugely successful in tackling rival families who had wrought a reign of terror there. It is time to step up policing in Drogheda and Coolock in Dublin, and at all relevant areas in between, to take on those who are behind the horrific acts which are occurring all too frequently in the latest generation of 'gangland'.

It is easy to point the finger of blame at policymakers, and to also wonder aloud what the gardai are doing that such events are occurring sometimes in broad daylight close to, or within the thoroughfares, of everyday life. In general, it is fair to say, the authorities are doing their best, and undoubtedly they are as appalled at this latest, horrific murder as is everybody else.

The politicians will squabble in this election campaign about gardai resources and numbers, laws enacted and legislation on the statute books put in place to challenge and eradicate this decades old scourge from our society. But perhaps many citizens should also ask questions closer to home.

The illegal drugs trade - the garda chief superintendent investigating this latest murder referred on several occasions to cocaine in particular - is a lucrative one and a huge temptation for impressionable young teenagers such as that tragic, murdered boy.

The Taoiseach has borrowed from the former UK prime minister, Tony Blair, when he said his Government would be "tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime". The causes are many, not least socio-economic in that the participants more often than not are drawn from disadvantaged areas within our society. But the illegal drugs trade, which poses such a threat to life and limb, crosses all social divides.

So, as those in the more fashionable parts of society snort their cocaine this weekend, they might like to ask themselves to what extent they are contributing to the horror which shocked the nation last week. The answer, of course, is entirely.

Sunday Independent