Can Ireland’s criminals get away with murder?

05/02/2016 Regency Hotel shooting scene. Gardai outside the Regency Hotel, Swords Road, Dublin 9 where a shooting incident occurred at 2.30 pm today. Gardai report that three men, all in their 20s or 30s, were found injured at the scene, and one of the men was subsequently pronounced dead. The two others were removed to The Mater and Beaumont hospitals with possible gunshot wounds. Photograph: Sasko Lazarov / RollingNews.ie
Photograph: Sasko Lazarov / RollingNews.ie

It’s been many years now since the days when journalists and police officers thought twice about mentioning London gangland’s notorious Adams family from Islington – and even then in hushed tones.

It is with that in mind that one looks at the current violence in Dublin as gang leaders’ proxies murder their rivals’ friends and family members with impunity.

The huge presence of armed Gardai and Irish soldiers to supervise an inner city Dublin funeral were on a scale not seen even at the height of the IRA’s terror campaign.

Which also raises the question as to how the Irish State was able for many years to keep tabs – through manpower intensive Special Branch surveillance and other means – on a large dedicated, self-declared ‘army’ at the heart of Irish society and can’t do the same for a few dozen gangsters.

Especially given that their slightest movements appear to be detailed in much of the Irish news media.

One might be forgiven for thinking some of Dublin’s streets have become no-go areas surrendered to the local criminal elements and that gun crime is rife.

Whether or not the drug bosses and gangsters control some areas is a moot point but, apparently, notwithstanding the recent murders, murder and weapons offences in Ireland are at an nine-year low from their 2007 peak.

Between 2003 and the third quarter of 2015, it was reported in Dublin last week-end, there have been 727 murders and manslaughters across Ireland, with 44 per cent of them in Dublin and 7.4 per cent in Limerick.

The annual total of killings peaked in 2006 and 2007 when there were 70 and 84 murders and manslaughters recorded respectively. Since then the number has fluctuated between 45 and 60. That means 700 killings since 2003.

In 30 years of the Troubles the death toll was close to 3,000 suggesting that pro rate Ireland’s murder rate is still, at one level, troublingly high.

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