Government losing fight against crime

LIFE has become cheap in Ireland — so cheap that a father of five young children was killed for attempting to stop thieves stealing his car.

Up and down the country, there is a palpable sense of outrage at such a mindless killing. For people who suffer daily from crime, or the dread of crime, it will be seen as yet another tragic illustration of the casual violence besetting Irish society today.

For many, the sense of vulnerability will be heightened by the fear they can no longer protect their own property without the risk of being murdered.

The appalling tragedy in Ballyfermot is all the more poignant because a young wife and her children have been robbed of a husband and father on the eve of Christmas.

For the Farrell family, what should have been a time of celebration has become one of sadness and mourning.

What people find alarming was the gratuitous nature of a tragedy which occurred at 8pm, a time when the family would normally be settling down for the night in their quiet suburban neighbourhood.

But when Thomas Farrell went outside, to confront two youths trying to break into his car at his home, it cost him his life.

What is frightening about such a heinous crime is the realisation that the youths followed him into the hallway of his house where he was stabbed in the back and left to die later in hospital.

This appalling incident has served to focus the spotlight on the perceived break down of law-and-order in many urban communities. To an increasing degree, people are becoming more fearful.

And regrettably, they have good reason to be concerned for their personal safety as well as the safety of vulnerable members of a community.

In some areas of Dublin and other cities, the activities of criminal gangs and drug addicts are having a terrifying impact on the lives of citizens. They will welcome the alacrity of the garda response in this instance.

Despite issuing figures showing a slight drop in overall crime, the Government is widely seen as losing the fight against the criminal.

Violence has become a major problem among communities who see the Coalition as promising much but delivering little in the fight against crime.

It is undeniable that serious violent crime is rising and has been on a rising graph for a number of years.

Largely due to his propensity for the dramatic announcement, Justice Minister Michael McDowell is rapidly developing a credibility problem.

Like it or not, his many initiatives are seen as having more to do with cutting costs than putting extra resources into the fight against crime.

While the minister’s plan to make the gardaí more efficient may be laudable, closing down small garda stations in rural areas will not increase the garda presence on the beat. Rather than broken promises, the public want the minister to deliver his pledge to recruit 2,000 gardaí.

As they mourn for Thomas Farrell, the people of Ballymun are painfully aware of the reality that political promises will not make their lives any safer. For them, and the terrorised residents of other communities, what they see on the streets is what really counts.

No amount of Government propaganda will ever match the stark reality of what happened on Cherry Orchard Avenue.

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