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Andrew Lynch: Ahern’s bluster has done nothing to deter gangs

ACCORDING to senior gardai, the new generation of gang leaders in Dublin have modelled themselves on various characters in the hit US detective series The Wire.

If things are allowed to keep going as they are, the drug-infested ghettoes of Baltimore might actually seem like a safer place to live.

The latest shooting in Fairview is a chilling reminder that these thugs still believe they are winning the war for control of our streets – and until the State finds some way to fight back, the number of innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire will continue to rise.

The ambush outside the Players Lounge in Fairview on Sunday night was a tragedy waiting to happen.

Gardai are investigating possible links to a bid by former republicans to muscle in on security arrangements at various bars and clubs in the city.

As a result, two innocent men are in a critical condition and one innocent man has a bullet wound in the back he will remember for the rest of his life.

The political reaction to this sort of shooting has followed a predictable pattern over the past few years – involved outrage from the Minister for Justice, solemn promises that a watershed has been reached and then a complete lack of meaningful action.

These days, it seems as if Dermot Ahern can’t even be bothered to do the concerned outrage bit.

His response to Sunday’s events has been distinctly muted, adding to the growing sense of defeatism that has gripped not just this government but society as a whole. The statistics tell their own story.

Of the 193 gun murders committed in Ireland since 1998, a mere 23 have led to a successful conviction.

If you get killed by a firearm, in other words, then the chances that the criminal justice system will put your assailant behind bars are barely one in 10.

In the past four weeks alone, six people have been shot on the streets of Dublin – which means that at the current rate, the gangland murder rate for 2010 will break all existing records.

In some cases, it seems as if the crime lords are actually better resourced than the agents of the State.

The recent Garda Inspectorate Report confirmed the incredible fact that in 2010, most of our police stations don’t have access to such a basic technological tool as email.

By comparison, gang leaders are so clued in that in many cases they can run their operations from the comfort of their own prison cells.

To be fair, the police are clearly doing their best with the resources they have available to them.

Commissioner Fachtna Murphy recently called a crime summit with his key advisers, which resulted in armed gardai from the Emergency Response Unit patrolling the streets of the north inner city and west Dublin.

The commissioner says that last year’s anti-gangland legislation has provided them with a valuable new weapon and that a growing number of files on prominent gang members are being sent to the DPP.

As Sunday night’s shooting has graphically proved, however, this increased garda activity just isn’t enough.

The gunman in a balaclava who turned a quiet night in Fairview into something approaching a scene from a cowboy film clearly wasn’t afraid of any of these new laws.

As far as these thugs are concerned, they play by their own rules.

And if some people wind up dead because they happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, that clearly isn’t going to cost them a lot of sleep at night.

Dermot Ahern’s tough-guy image has turned out to be a complete sham. It’s time we had a Minister for Justice who’s actually prepared to take the gloves off.

Because unlike The Wire, this horrific crime drama has no end in sight.