Calls for national debate on knife crime

IRELAND needs to hold a “national debate” on knife crime, a victims’ support group has said.

The call came after a 20-year-old man was knifed to death by another young man wielding two kitchen knives on a public green in Swords, north Dublin.

Father-to-be James Joyce was killed after he tried to break up a fight and prevent the attacker from stabbing another man.

In a particularly shocking attack, Mr Joyce’s pregnant girlfriend, Alison Colgan, looked on helplessly as her boyfriend was stabbed up to four times in the chest and neck.

Gardaí said the attack on Thursday evening was “fuelled by drink and drugs” and was sparked by a “relatively minor disagreement” over relationships between a girl, also pregnant, and two men, including the killer.

The attacker, aged 22, from Rush, north Dublin, handed himself in to gardaí yesterday morning and is expected to be charged.

It is the second fatal stabbing in a week and, at least, the 11th knife murder so far this year, raising again the issue of knife crime.

“There is absolutely no need to be carrying knives unless you intend to cause violence,” said Joan Dean, spokeswoman for Advocates for Victims of Homicide (AdVIC).

“There is such an increase in violence that we do need to have a national conversation.

“There seems to be a problem with young people, particularly young men, who don’t know how to deal with problems, without killing each other.”

Ms Dean said the criminal justice system had to “wake up and smell the coffee” and stop being “soft on sentencing” for knife crimes.

“I know human rights have to be protected, but wider society needs to be protected. There needs to be a deterrent.

“We need to look at the tolerance we are prepared to give towards knives.”

Mr Joyce died after a main artery was severed in the frenzied attack. He died just yards from his family home on St Cronan’s Close, Swords.

His father, Patrick, said: “I ran down to see what was going on. The blood was pumping out of his chest and shoulder.”

The tragedy came after a group of up to 10 youths in the estate enjoyed the summer weather, drinking and, in some case, smoking cannabis.

Gardaí said there was friction between some of them, including the killer and another youth over a girl.

Gardaí had been called to the scene and took away the would-be killer for a drugs search two hours before the murder.

He was released afterwards and following another confrontation on the green, went and got two knives from a friend’s house.

Ms Dean said a multi- agency response was needed, including an educational campaign, aimed at young people.

A nationwide Garda campaign – How Big Do You Feel? – was launched in February 2009.

The number of knife murders spiralled from eight in 2003 to 21 in 2005 and to a high of 37 in 2007.

It fell to 15 in 2008, before rising again to 19 in 2009.


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