THE editorial in the August 5 edition of the Clare Champion was headed Fear Stalks the Banner.
The first paragraph set the tone: “For the past three months The Clare Champion reporting team have been exposing the levels of lawlessness that have unfortunately crept into the fabric of Clare society and social life.”
The county’s new local newspaper, The Clare People, has also been devoting a lot of column inches to crime in a county synonymous with breathtaking Atlantic scenery, traditional music, summer schools, matchmaking in Lisdoon and the craic.
But the Clare Champion leader writer observed: “Public disorder, drunkenness, violence and the scourge of drugs are part of the landscape of the Banner County. In the space of three days in Ennis some weeks ago, there was a brutal attack on a man in the centre of the town, an assault and mugging of a seven months pregnant woman and the rape of a single mother of three.”
During the past nine months four people have died violently in Clare.
The latest violent death occurred in Kilrush last Wednesday night. Local woman Anne Walsh was found dead in the grounds of a church in the town.
A man was remanded in court last Friday.
Of the four recent violent deaths in Clare, three of the victims were women.
On November 29, 2004, a teenage girl, Marguerite O’Dwyer was found dead at her home in Ennistymon. A youth has been charged in connection with her death.
On February 12, 2005 Ennis taximan Liam Moloney was found with fatal wounds at Ruan. A man has been charged.
On April 8, 2005, Emer O’Loughin was found dead in a caravan at Boston Tubber in North Clare. The garda investigation into her death is still ongoing.On August 24, 2005, Anne Walsh was found dead in church grounds in Kilrush.
The last violent death in Clare prior to that of Marguerite O’Dwyer happened on April, 30, 2003 when pensioner Jack Daly was found dead at his home in Bellharbour in North Clare. A man was found guilty but insane.
Violent death, outside of gangland bloodletting, is usually one-off and most public concern in Clare about crime is centred on anti-social behaviour and street violence involving gratuitous assaults.
And much of recent media focus on assaults has involved incidents in Kilrush.
Fine Gael TD Pat Breen said recent incidents involving public order, showed that Kilrush is crying out for extra garda resources.
The media have come under a lot of flak in Limerick for coverage of violence in the local press and the Clare Champion says it is experiencing some backlash from people who say the paper should promote Clare’s feelgood factor.
Nevertheless, the Clare experience demonstrates that large urban centres do not hold the franchise on crime and violence and that no place, no matter how idyllic, is a rosy garden, where only good prevails.