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Collins' lives are on hold

Thirteen seconds. It's not much time, is it? An instant. A flash. It's about enough time to wash your hands after a trip to the bathroom. Enough time to turn on a kettle and make a cup of tea. Enough time to walk from the kitchen up the stairs to your bedroom.

Enough time to murder someone -- to take a life, savagely and for no good reason, and in the process wreck several more lives.

According to Frank Shouldice's heartbreaking, blood-boiling 20-minute film on last night's Prime Time, 13 seconds was all it took for James Dillon to shoot Roy Collins dead in his father Steve's amusement arcade in Limerick.


We all think we know the story of Roy and Steve.

Why, the whole horrible tragedy was told again on Miriam O'Callaghan's chat show just three weeks ago. So it would be understandable if some of us thought: "I don't think I'll watch Prime Time. I know all this already."

Except we don't know it already. Shouldice's film, shot over a weekend with the Collins family, showed us something we hadn't really known: what it's REALLY like to live in a constant state of . . . well, not just fear. You can't accuse people like Steve Collins, his wife Carmel and their two remaining sons, Ryan and Stephen, of being battered down by fear alone, not when they've shown such courage. Not when they're refusing to be beaten, resisting bribery, then threats and intimidation.

It's more like a state of stasis, of apprehension, of lives being on hold. A state of emotional wreckage.

The family have round-the-clock armed protection.

Steve appreciates this, yet he's still bitter. "We thought this was all finished with. We thought they'd done what they'd done."

But it's never finished, never done. "We're like sitting ducks," said Stephen Jr. "You back off from these people and they still come after you."

Ultimately, no one can hide in plain sight, not even thugs and killers. For the Collins family, that has to be the hope as well as the torment.