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Terry Prone: We must stop ignoring parallel world in our city suburbs

The name is Daniel Gaynor. He was the man shot dead in front of his two young sons this weekend. The latest gangland killing of more than a dozen this year.

It's easy to forget the name and to shy away from the reality.

We briefly engage with the horror of two boys watching their father die, and then we disengage, with permission.

That permission is granted by that phrase in the radio news bulletins: Daniel Gaynor was "well known to the gardai".

Oh, we say to ourselves, he was a gang member who got on the wrong side of a more powerful gang member. Nothing to do with us. Everything to do with the parallel universe that has grown up in the past years.

That parallel universe puts us all into the position of spectators at a show we don't quite believe in. It's like a re-play of Chicago in the 1920s. It doesn't feel real that sub-machine guns are stuttering their messages of death on the streets of Dublin. Or Limerick. Or Cork.

But that's the reality. On a late summer evening, people can be sitting at a pub or cafe in the sunshine one minute and the following minute dropping to the ground in response to gunfire.


The blood flowing into gutters is now the stuff not of black and white still photographs from the Al Capone days, but of full-colour, present-day reality.

The gangs in the US came from the immigrant underclass, an extension of self-protective mechanisms of poor peasants in places like Sicily, applied to new circumstances in America.

The embers of their mutual loyalties and hatreds were fanned into flames by Prohibition, which created a huge market for a product that wasn't hard to access or to deliver.

Cries for action against the gangs were cynical because so many Americans were frequenting speakeasies in order to consume prohibited alcohol.

As if that wasn't bad enough, the cops and the FBI faced, in the gangs at the time, a separate section within the wider population, with rituals that bound them to each other and to the secrecy of "omerta".


They were near impossible to infiltrate. It was definitely impossible to defeat them at their own game -- hence, the destruction of Al Capone did not come about because he was found guilty of murder and mayhem. The taxman got him in the end.

Ireland's gangland situation is different, but just as difficult for the gardai. It's rooted in families and neighbourhoods, which makes infiltration of the gangs incredibly difficult.

It's distinguished by intimidation, so that incriminating someone for, say, the Daniel Gaynor assassination will be hugely challenging.

Despite the downturn, there is a continuing market for the products the gangs move.

A week from now, Daniel Gaynor's name will have faded from our memories. We survive by denial and forgetting. We're scared and we're impotent.

The gangs have us where they want us.