It emerged yesterday that up to 40 people linked to some degree or other with leading figures in the murderous Drogheda feud, including women and children, are in hiding because they fear they might be caught in revenge crossfire after last week’s discovery of teenager Keane Mulready-Woods’ butchered body. Unsurprisingly, the Criminal Assets Bureau, National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, and the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau have met to plan a response to that outrage. On the very day that this run-and-hide response to the murder of a 17-year-old became public, another 17-year-old was arrested in connection with Cameron Blair’s murder in Cork last week.
Any direct link with a third story may be coincidental but it is certainly pertinent. It was also reported that, despite recruiting almost 2,800 gardaí since 2014, manpower levels at a third of the country’s 560 stations remains unchanged. The Department of Justice figures show that cities and towns are the main beneficiaries of the growing strength of the force. Garda numbers reached the highest level since 2010 when, at the end of last year, 14,307 officers were active.
The response to last week’s tragedies, and other crimes too, must go far beyond re-energised policing but that seems an essential first step even if only to create and sustain an atmosphere of security where a wider response might take hold. More gardaí still should mean less crime.