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Chilling death threat is a wake-up call to Shatter

THE threat to murder a journalist and an experienced detective is one of the most chilling developments in recent times.

It shows that there are elements of the Dublin criminal underworld which are completely out of control and pose a very serious risk to our democracy.

The murder of Sunday Independent investigative journalist Veronica Guerin in June 1996 was a lesson to the government and gardai, who at the time were almost apathetic to the emerging gangland threat.

Today's events and the arrest of six suspects for the plot against Mick McCaffrey and two other people, including a detective garda, are very worrying. They are matters which should keep Justice Minister Alan Shatter awake at night.

To their immense credit Gardai handled this investigation in a textbook manner from the off. They first secured the intelligence about the plot and then set about monitoring the movements of the crime gang involved.

There was no doubt in anyone's mind that those implicated had every intention of carrying out the conspiracy. Even the mother of the jailed criminal was arrested after it became apparent she was aware of the plot.



THREAT

I met Mick McCaffrey numerous times while the threat hung over him like a dark shadow and his bravery and resilience in the face of such adversity was truly commendable.

McCaffrey, an award winning journalist with the Sunday World, is a friend. There's no doubt he is a journalist cut from the same cloth as Paul Williams, another reporter who has lived under the constant threat of death for almost a decade. In this latest attempt by Dublin criminals to silence those who expose their filthy trade, one has to truly understand the extent that this criminal wanted McCaffrey dead.

The deal to kill my former Herald colleague was so real the fee of €20,000 had been promised and the gunman was in the process trying to track down the reporter.

Despite the urgency of the case detectives led by Commissioner Martin Callinan and dynamic Deputy Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan didn't move early.

Instead they steadily built a case that will hopefully put these people away for a very long time.

The attempts to murder any journalist, garda or trial witness are terrifying to anyone who knows the reputation of the crime boss and his cohorts involved.

One hopes Justice Minister Alan Shatter keeps them in mind as he sets about slashing the garda budget and depriving the force of even the most mundane things like patrol cars, never mind armed patrols at night.


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