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Cracking down on Fenian thugs

Madam -- It is highly unlikely that the final decision not to intervene and arrest the masked, ghoulish and threatening guard of honour accompanying the Alan Ryan funeral procession from Donaghmede, Dublin, on, September 8, following the firing of three shots outside the home of the deceased was taken on the ground by an Garda Siochana.

Was discretion the better part of valour under these circumstances, or would an immediate intervention by an anti-terrorist force in order to arrest these law-breakers have been the appropriate option? Had practically anyone else committed such a flagrant crime as discharging bullets into the air, while dressed in fascist attire, they would have been arrested.

Ritual condemnations by the Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, using words such as "reprehensible, and absolutely unacceptable", reflect a sad reality and the fact that the State, post-peace process, does not have the necessary means nor expertise at its disposal to put down Fenian thuggery, and terrorism. The State must relearn its old skills.

Perhaps Mr Shatter finds it difficult, as does the political establishment, to stand up to terrorism, bearing in mind that all in Irish politics have no problem praising the creator of modern terrorism, Michael Collins. His love for his country is made clear at Beal na Blath every August -- a venue Mr Shatter along with Enda Kenny attended a few weeks ago. It's time we woke up to our past and the dangers in our present.

The protection of liberal democracy depends on the principle that no one is above the law, and if anyone breaks it, especially in a criminal fashion, they will be taken into custody, tried, and if the evidence against them is proven, they will be convicted and jailed. The Donaghmede incident and the entire affair that day relating to a group of terrorists cocking a snook at our liberal democracy is hardly the fault of an Garda Siochana, but an indictment of the moral and political cowardice of the Government. We should not only expect, but demand better.

Pierce Martin,

Celbridge, Co Kildare

Sunday Independent