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Gerry O'Carroll: We're losing the war on city gun law

Two men are today fighting for their lives after the latest deadly gun attack in Dublin.

In a scene that could have come from a Wild West film, a gunman walked up to the Players Lounge in Fairview late on Sunday night.

The doorman, who appeared to be the target, was chased into the packed pub before being shot in the head.

In the ensuing melee, the gunman also shot two bystanders who were just enjoying a pint.

This wasn't Dodge City or Tombstone City in the lawless Wild West of the 1880s, but Dublin in 2010.



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Sadly, this outrage is not a rare occurrence but an increasingly familiar feature of the scourge of gun crime in our society.

If this spate of shooting continues, and all the evidence suggests that it will, Dublin will soon have the dubious honour of being the gun crime capital of Europe.

Make no mistake, the ongoing slaughter on our streets has reached crisis point.

When will the Minister for Justice and the Government finally grasp the nettle of organised crime and realise that the activity of these hoodlums poses a terrible threat to our way of life?

At least the victims of Sunday night's shooting are still fighting for their lives.

Others weren't so lucky, and have joined the grim roll call of victims who have paid the ultimate price.

Yesterday morning, I listened with shock as Justice Minister Dermot Ahern went on radio to debate the capital investment plan with Fine Gael's Michael Noonan.

Surely he would have been better employed addressing this attack?

That's his portfolio after all.

We are facing the absolute breakdown of law and order, and Sunday night's shooting of Wayne Barrett, Austen Purcell and Brian Masterson has proved this.

The ordinary person on the street is thoroughly alarmed at the prospect of coked-up psychopaths gunning down citizens with impunity.

Yet, there is hope.

The gardai are doing their best and have already had some measure of success.

What we need is an acknowledgement from the Government of the danger faced by ordinary people every day.

We already have the laws but need to see them enforced. We need armed response units throughout every garda division in the country because, to date, only two are operational.

We also need to enforce anti-gang laws with the same vigour that was used against members of paramilitary organisations.

During the Troubles, the evidence of a chief super-intendent in the Special Criminal Court against a person for membership of an illegal organisation was enough to jail him for five years.

Outrage

I've previously called for the Special Criminal Courts to be used to try every criminal charged with a drug or gangland-related offence.

Those who are convicted of gangland killings should serve a minimum of 25 to 30 years imprisonment.

And even in this current economic climate, we cannot accept any cutbacks in our National Drugs Unit, Serious Crime Unit and the anti-organised crime units.

If we are to defeat these criminals, there must be no let up in our efforts.

There can be no sanctuary from the forces of law and order.

What further outrage does the Government need before it comes to its senses? Organised crime is an urgent threat to this State, and we need immediate action.

The time for talk is over.

Let's hope the great Hurricane Higgins can now find the peace he never enjoyed in life

It was with immense sorrow that I learned of the demise of that great sporting icon Hurricane Alex Higgins. I'm not an aficionado of the game, but when Higgins took to the table we were all spellbound by his prowess, skill, daring and genius.

Of course, the great Belfast man went on to win the World Championship twice. Alas, his fall from grace was as sad as it was spectacular, triggered by his addiction to alcohol and his wild, unstable personality.

His infamous threats against Dennis Taylor caused him to lose the respect of his peers and he was ostracised from the game.

When cancer struck, he became a walking skeleton. He was almost unrecognisable from the man he once was.

I met him on two occasions, once in Louis Copeland's where he was being rigged out by the tailor. On another occasion, I met him in the Gresham Hotel when I accompanied a colleague who wanted his autograph. The request was met with a foul-mouthed tirade of four-letter words.

Yet this was the temperament that made him such a unique star. And of course he was out of his head on drink at the time. His path to destruction continued to the point where he died alone at the weekend, broke and abandoned. I hope that the great Hurricane Higgins finds peace in the next world, because he certainly didn't find it in this life.

McDowell's July 12th plea is just a cheap shot

The Mad Mullah is at it again. Former Tanaiste Michael McDowell has called for the Republic of Ireland to embrace the 12th of July festivities. He believes that in order to consolidate the Good Friday Agreement, and as a gesture of conciliation to our Orange brethren in the North, we should make July 12 a public holiday.

It's yet another hare-brained idea from the man who only recently hinted that he was considering becoming a candidate for Fine Gael in the 2012 General Election. Let's not forget this was the party he abandoned to help found the ill-fated PDs.

The bold Michael is obviously not content with his eminent standing as a leading senior counsel. He clearly misses the prestige of ministerial office and would like to get his hands on the levers of power once again.

Much to the delight of Enda Kenny, he even suggested that he might stand in his own constituency in Dublin South East, alongside the bete noir of Fine Gael, Lucinda Creighton.

To highlight his intention, Michael has used this 12th of July to garnish publicity. I can't imagine even the most benign and conciliatory people in the south ever embracing the notion that we would celebrate this day. Do we want to see the sword-carrying gentlemen of the Orange Order striding through our streets? Personally, I can't imagine anything more loathsome.

I think McDowell should be absolutely ashamed of himself for such a cheap shot, to suggest that the citizens of this Republic should join in with the Orange men in what is nothing other than a parade of triumphalism.

I feel it is disingenuous for McDowell to compare these celebrations to St Patrick's Day.

And I'm sure it'll be a cold day in hell before we contemplate allowing Orange men to trumpet their perceived superiority over Catholics. Michael, in future please keep your madcap ideas to yourself.


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