23 people shot dead since Justice said Ireland safe

MORE THAN 20 people have been shot dead since the Department of Justice last year insisted Ireland was a safe country.

The department’s assurances over public safety and crime came last April after a week in which three people were murdered, a further two were stabbed and two were beaten savagely.

At the time, a Justice Department spokesman told the Irish Examiner: “It’s not true to say that it’s a claim that Ireland is a safe country - it’s a fact by European standards.”

However, since then 23 people have been gunned down.

Four of those violent deaths were in the space of 12 days in Dublin last November.

Last week, Fine Gael and Labour called on Justice Minister Michael McDowell to bring forward planned new firearms laws and a guns amnesty as a matter or urgency.

However, his department insisted the new gun laws would be in place by summer as part of the forthcoming Criminal Justice Bill.

There were 22 gun-related homicides in 2005, including murders and other violent fatal shootings.

In 2004, the number of gun murders was eight, in 2003 the figure was 20 and in 2002 10 people were shot dead.

In 2001, nine people died in gun murders and in 2000 there were 12 gun murders.

Last night the Justice Department pointed to a statement Mr McDowell made in February when he told the Dáíl that Ireland’s crime rate remained lower than Britain’s.

He added: “In 1995, with a population of almost 3.6 million people, there were 29 crimes per 1,000 of the population (in Ireland) while in 2005, with a population of over 4.1 million, there were 24.6 crimes per 1,000 of the population.”

Serious crime was lower in 2005 than in 2002, he said.

An official last night said more gardaí were being recruited and that tougher sentences for gun crime were due to become law.

The Criminal Justice Bill, which was first unveiled in 2004, proposes mandatory sentences of five to 10 years for possession of a firearm.

The proposed laws also include tightening the restrictions on the ownership and storage of weapons.

Before the new laws come into force, the Government said it will hold a guns amnesty to reduce the amount of weapons in circulation.

Victims of violence: those who have been shot dead since April 2005

THOSE who have been shot dead since last April include (most recent first):

March 10: Shay Bradley, 27, Dublin.

March 5: Donna Cleary, 22, Dublin.

February 11: Dara McCormack, 22, Dublin.

February 11: John Mahon, 60, Fermoy, Co Cork.

December 31, 2005: Sam Smith, 23, Sligo.

December 11: Ian McConville, 28, Dublin.

November 15: Noel Roche, 27, Dublin.

November 13: Gavin Byrne, 30, Dublin.

November 13: Darren Geoghegan, 26, Dublin.

November 4: Owen McCarthy, 22, Dublin.

October 28: David Nunan, 25, near Limerick.

September 9: James Healy, 30, Carlow.

September 7: Mark Glennon, 32, Dublin.

August 18: Andrew Dillon, 29, found dead in Co Meath.

August 13 : Eric Cummins, 31, Ballincollig, Co Cork.

August 10: Vincent O’Brien, 53, Bray, Co Wicklow.

May 27: Anthony Creed, 36, Dublin.

May 14: Martin Kenny, 22, Dublin.

May 5: Mark Byrne, 31, Dublin.

April 30: Andrew Glennon, 30, Dublin.

April 28: Hughie McGinley, 26, Sligo.

April 14: Terry Dunleavy, 27, Dublin.

April 12: Joe Rafferty, 28, Dublin.

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