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How long before an innocent kid is gunned down?

A GARDA investigation is under way into the attempted murder of a man outside a creche in Donaghmede yesterday morning.

It's pure luck that detectives aren't also investigating the maiming or worse of innocent parents and children too.

The shooting of 'Fat Deccy' Smith is the latest example of Dublin's underworld gunmen carrying out an attack in a public place in broad daylight with little regard for who else they injure or kill.

Smith was targeted as he walked from the door of his child's creche back to his parked car. He was shot once in the face by a masked man who used a sawn-off shotgun.

Read that again: a sawn-off shotgun.

Anyone with even a basic knowledge of firearms will tell you just how reckless it is to fire a shotgun – of all weapons – in a residential area.

RECKLESS

Unlike a bullet, a shotgun shell disperses multiple pellets in a relatively wide arc.

I have personally witnessed the damage caused to people hit by shotgun pellets. I've seen victims hit with 60 and 70 pellets.

Could there be a more reckless act than discharging such a round just metres outside from the door of creche?

By the grace of God no parent or child was standing in range when this occurred. Otherwise, we would be dealing with a much more serious case today.

The attempted hit on Holywell Avenue is the latest instance in a spate of gun violence which has dogged the capital in recent weeks.

In fact, the Donaghmede shooting was the second gun attack in a residential area of Dublin in just six days.

Last Saturday, Stephen 'Dougie' Moran, a gangster pal of John Gilligan, was gunned down in a quiet estate in Lucan.

Last month, a kickboxer with a drugs conviction, James Talbot, was shot dead. Again, this occurred at his home, in a settled residential area in Lucan.

None of these shootings are connected but taken as a whole they represent a worrying resurgence of gun crime in the capital this year.

And that's before we take into account the attempt on the life of exiled gangster John Gilligan.

For better or worse, few people will feel sorry for the targets of these shootings. Many people might say 'let them at it, as long as they're killing each other who cares'.

Such an attitude is very dangerous. If we come to tolerate – to any degree – shootings such as these we guarantee one thing: that we will see more of them. And innocent people will be killed as result.

In the 1980s, I was one of a unit of 60 dedicated officers who worked in Garda headquarters tackling serious crime.

This Investigations Section, which replaced the murder squad, had a detection rate of 90pc.

It was later disbanded but given the rise in these shootings is it not time for the Minister to form a similar unit to specifically target gangland murders? The low rate of detection is such cases could merit this.

As it stands, I don't envy the gardai tasked with finding yesterday's gunman or, indeed, his motive for shooting Smith.

By all accounts 'Fat Deccy' was up to his neck in all sorts of underworld activity.

He was a close pal of notorious Real IRA thug Alan Ryan and had attempted to take over the Dublin RIRA after Ryan's death.

GRUDGES

In vintage Republican style, this led to a split and 'Fat Deccy' was found injured in Saggart one night early last year after a punishment attack.

Given that the RIRA in Dublin have been feuding with local crime gangs in recent years there could be any number of gangsters with any number of grudges out to target Smith.

Gardai will be focusing on all this in the coming days.

As they search for answers I've a troubling question of my own to put: how much longer before an innocent person is killed in a similar attack?


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