This challenge must be smashed by State force
The crime novelist Elmore Leonard swore that no one should use the words "all hell broke loose". At a Dublin hotel in broad daylight yesterday afternoon, all hell did indeed break loose.
Posing as gardai from the armed response unit, three men fronted up with AK47s and sprayed the lobby with gunfire.
In footage released of the incident, a terrified child is heard screaming: "Daddy, what's happening?"
One man is dead and two more are critically injured in what has to be one of the most brazen and chilling gangland attacks in recent memory.
Yesterday's callous slaying was particularly disturbing for the cruel disregard shown towards innocent people.
With their automatic weapons, the killers let loose, displaying the clinical and calculated disdain of those who live off the profits of drugs and who are perfectly at one with their mission of peddling death. Such cowards ply their trade through the barrel of a weapon. For them, those caught in the crossfire are scarcely worth a thought.
Such a challenge to the gardaí and to this very State must meet with absolute force. Terrorists tried for several decades to subvert justice in this country. Now, driven by nothing other than the heartless drive for supremacy from the depths of a deep, dark, 'dog-eat-dog' underworld, these delinquent gangs will wreak misery and mayhem at every chance.
As an election takes place, people are questioning what are the issues that matter. Well, crime matters; so too does respect for life and decency. Both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael have had a hand in the closure of garda stations and a reduction in the numbers of An Garda Síochána.
The ease with which lethal automatic weapons can be acquired is as shocking as the ease with which ruthless killers are prepared to put them to use. So lest any candidate, party, or prospective Government needs a reminder, the people of this country take law and order to heart.
The price of life cannot be allowed to sink to the value put on it by murderers.
We have seen playground squabbles escalating into full-blown blood feuds. Our standards of decency and values must be reflected by our commitment to protecting them.
To their credit, when the gardaí are given the resources and manpower, they have proven more than equal to the task in cracking down on those who have no regard for society.
Those with no respect for the law must at least be given a reason to fear it; contempt for it must have consequences.