Slaughter of the innocents by gangs and gun crime

Antoinette Corbally is the latest bystander caught in the crossfire, says Caroline O'Doherty.

Slaughter of the innocents by gangs and gun crime

That the murder of Antoinette Corbally in front of young children still has the power to shock could be considered a positive indication that society has not become entirely immune to the terror and devastation wreaked by gangs and gun crime.

Or it could be a sign of collective public amnesia.

Because we’ve been here before, hearing the news of an innocent person slaughtered by thugs whose business is killing. And we’ve been told before that things must change.

In May 2006, 22-year-old Donna Cleary lost her life when shots were fired into a house party in Finglas.

Then justice minister Michael McDowell declared the murder a ‘watershed’ moment. Gun crime had become so common that what was feared all along — that an innocent person would get caught in the crossfire — had happened.

Since then there have been many examples of innocent people murdered because of mistaken identity, because they witnessed a criminal act, because they were related to a target, or simply because they had the misfortune to get in the way of an indiscriminately fired bullet.

Just weeks after Donna Cleary died, 23-year-old Keith Fitzsimons was shot dead as he stopped to chat with acquaintances outside a house in Coolock, Dublin. Some of those in the group had been involved in a row earlier in the day in which Keith had no involvement. He was one of three men shot but the other two survived.

In December that year, 20-year-old apprentice plumber Anthony Campbell was murdered as he attended a job at a house in Finglas. Gunmen shot dead drugs boss Martin Hyland as he lay in bed upstairs and killed Anthony to leave no witness.

Other innocents who became gangland victims included: Eddie Ward: The 24-year-old was at Brian Downes’ garage in Walkinstown when underworld figure Downes was the target of a hit in October 2007.

Both men were shot dead.

Shane Geoghegan: The 28-year-old aircraft technician and rugby player from

Limerick was mistaken for a local drug dealer, to whom he bore a passing resemblance, and was shot dead after leaving a neighbour’s house where he had been watching a rugby match.

Glen Murphy, 19, and Mark Noonan, 23: Cousins from Dublin’s inner city were shot dead in November 2010 at a petrol station in Finglas where they went for cigarettes. Apparently, their car was similar to that of the intended target.

Melanie McCarthy McNamara: A 16-year-old from Tallaght, Melanie was in a car with her boyfriend and another young man when they were fired at in a drive-by shooting in February 2012. She was shot in the head and died as her friends drove her to hospital.

Sean Scully was just six when he was shot and left paralysed as he played on a green in front of his Ballyfermot home in June 2014. The shots were

intended for men involved in a local dispute but were sprayed across a wide area where children were gathered.

Martin O’Rourke: A 24-year-old homeless father of three on his way to his back-to-education course, Martin was shot dead in April 2016 after apparently being mistaken for an associate of Gerry Hutch, a key figure in the ongoing Hutch-Kinahan feud.

Trevor O’Neill: Dublin City Council employee, 41, was murdered in front of his partner and two children on a family holiday in Majorca in August 2016. The family were staying in the same apartment as a nephew of Gerry Hutch and was shot in a case of mistaken identity.

Noel Kirwan: The 62-year-old grandfather was an acquaintance of the Hutch family and was gunned down as he visited his partner in Clondakin in December 2016 in what is believed to have been a warning that anyone with any link to the Hutches is considered fair game.

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