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Living in a state of fear

WARREN O'Connor accompanied a friend who went to complain about loud music in a flat in the north Dublin apartment block where he lived. They were met with abuse and threats. Nothing surprising there, in our increasingly violent and barbarous capital city.

But then the incident ratcheted up, through various stages from the grotesque to the horrific. After a late-night chase which ended in a car park, Warren was dead, stabbed in the chest with a bread knife.

Within 24 hours, not far away, another young man lay dead. It was the fifth killing in the same area of north Dublin in 10 days. Three of them were gang-related.

Any violent death is tragic, and it will be a bad day for us if we ever come to regard the stream of murders, and the endless battle waged between the gangsters and the Garda Siochana every day and every night, as part of normal life.

Everybody, however, will make a distinction between a death arising from an argument over drug sales and the gruesome end of a young man like the footballer and former soldier Warren O'Connor. His life, with all its promise, has been wiped out -- pointlessly and cruelly. If his killers are caught and imprisoned, there is hardly one chance in 10 that they will learn anything or mend their ways.

And the frequency of such horrible incidents must prompt us to ask, what has become of our society?