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Gerry O'Carroll: Rise of Provo gangsters must be halted right now

THEY say nature abhors a vacuum and that's certainly true with the crumbling of Eamonn "the Don" Dunne's evil gang.

But, in the time-honoured way of gangland, another even more ruthless outfit is poised to take its place. The grim activities of the past week have unleashed a fresh wave of terror and mayhem on the streets of the capital.

Number 16 on the shameful list of gangland killings this year was Sean Winters, a low-level drug dealer who was gunned down in Portmarnock on Sunday night.

It followed an attempt last Saturday on the life of Eamonn Kelly, the 61-year-old career criminal and convicted drug dealer who is regarded as one of the godfathers of organised crime in Dublin.

Jammed

Kelly was seconds away from a meeting with his maker when he survived an assassination attempt outside his home in Finglas, as a would-be hitman's gun jammed.

It is believed that the culprits behind this attempted murder were also part of the gang which targeted Sean Winters. And this same crew is believed to be responsible for a botched assassination attempt on a pal of The Don's, Brian O'Reilly, in Bettystown last month. Kelly in particular was considered to be a mentor figure for the Don. Yet this latest round of violence proves that, with the demise of Dunne and the weakening of his gang, new young rivals have moved in.

This lethal group, centred around two brothers with Continuity IRA connections, has declared war on the Don's pals and intends to win the struggle for power in Dublin and I fear they will do so at any cost.

We all know what's at stake here -- the highly lucrative door security business in pubs and nightclubs. This is one of the reasons Limerick doorman Brian Fitzgerald was gunned down, because he refused to allow Limerick gangs access to the clubs in which he worked.

It appears that this north Dublin gang includes ex-Provos who are now believed to be members of the Continuity IRA.

The gang has already earned a reputation for gratuitous violence that has shocked even the most hardened CIRA members.

It seems hard to believe but it is rumoured that these two brothers were even thrown out of the CIRA temporarily because of their extremely volatile natures. It pains me to say it, but the emergence of the CIRA crew signals a new and terrifying dimension to the already desperate crime scene.

The overworked and overburdened gardai are at their wits' end trying to contain it. I suppose we should be optimistic that there is some movement on the latest shooting with ten people having been taken into garda custody for questioning.

In my column last week I spoke about the activities of another hardline republican who is believed to have been behind the shooting of postman Robert Delany.

Legacy

Today, it is with a heavy heart that I mention the actions of members of the Continuity IRA.

Sure, the Good Friday Agreement brought an end to a 30-year paramilitary campaign, but as Gerry Adams pointed out, they haven't gone away.

It's clear that we're still dealing with the vile legacy of those dark days.

Once again, members of the CIRA have proven to be a serious threat to the security of the State.

As we can see from the latest bloody incidents, they harbour in their ranks murderers, drug dealers and evil criminals.

The State now faces a tough and urgent challenge, to stamp out this menace, for all our sakes.

Lenihan has unleashed fear among all families

IF you happened to hear Brian Lenihan's remarks on RTE radio, God help you. The Finance Minister was speaking from the Fianna Fail conference when he offered an ominous warning on the coming Budget. He admitted €3bn was the minimum that will be taken from taxpayers.

The Finance Minister was speaking from the Fianna Fail conference when he offered an ominous warning on the coming Budget. He admitted €3bn was the minimum that will be taken from taxpayers.

How much more can this country take?

Last week, we were told it would take €30bn to wind up Anglo Irish Bank. And one only had to tune in to last Friday's Late Late Show to see the immense suffering by people struggling to get by.

We're on the precipice of possibly the greatest financial crisis of our history. Unemployment stands at close to half a million. Thousands of our youngest and brightest are emigrating while others are stuck at home, mired in negative equity. All must surely feel a fresh tingle of fear at Minister Lenihan's warning.

Whatever else we can expect this Christmas, it won't be gifts. But, we cannot afford to lose hope. Our duty is to look forward with optimism and still believe in Santa Claus.

It'll be brilliant seeing these young socialites learn how to cook and clean -- after all, what man doesn't want that?

Now I'm no fan of the Big Brother-style TV, but I am partial to a good Sunday roast, and a spick and span house. So imagine my excitement when I read about RTE's new reality show in which Ireland's domestic shock troops, the Irish Countrywomen's Association, tutor some Dublin socialites on cooking and cleaning.

For generations these women have been the backbone of Irish rural life, and even as the Celtic Tiger roared they never forgot their traditional values. Now the experts are to host a boot camp for the likes of Michele McGrath, Collette McBarron and socialites Emily O'Donnell and Breda McDonald.

I'm already guffawing at the thought of these glamorous, glossy women leaving behind their fast-paced urban lifestyles in favour of some more homely pursuits.

I reckon Irish life has lost something because of the decline in popularity of the old-fashioned domestic science classes in schools.

Now, instead of making dinners, young Irish women are ordering take-outs or dining out in posh restaurants. And not a pork chop or semolina pudding in sight.

I'm really looking forward to seeing what the beautiful Ms McGrath makes of it all. It'll be quite hilarious watching her trading her stilettos for a pair of wellies -- because everyone knows that a good farmer's wife is always on hand when help is needed.

One thing is for sure, these gorgeous ladies will have men flocking after them. After all, given the choice, every healthy and lusty man would swap an undomesticated wife in a skimpy French outfit for a woman who knows how to make a good feed of bacon and cabbage and an apple and custard pie.


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