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Step up the penalty for kidnappers

Kidnapping is a particularly terrifying crime that targets people at their most vulnerable. It is truly alarming that we are already seeing incidents of kidnapping less than two weeks into a new year.

In the latest incident, a shopkeeper was unharmed but left badly shaken after being abducted from his Dublin shop by an armed gang.

The crime of kidnapping is a very serious one. Its intention is to inspire pure terror and the seriousness of this must be reflected in the punishment meted out.

Other countries attach the harshest penalties to kidnapping, and we must do likewise.

We have seen in the past that criminal gangs intent on wrongdoing will even kidnap children if it suits their purpose, and this is truly appalling.

Even if people come to no physical harm at the hands of kidnappers, it is surely a terrible ordeal for anybody to go through.