IN a scene straight from one of the darker passages of a Mario Puzo mafia-fest, an innocent father and businessman was murdered in his family-owned amusement arcade, on Thursday, because his cousin gave evidence against a key associate of the killers.
He was fatally shot at his place of work, in broad daylight, just yards from a major Garda station. His murder is the 18th in Limerick’s incomprehensible and savage gang war. It is also symptomatic of a society facing huge challenges from criminals.
The shooting of Roy Collins is the latest in a long list of gang-related atrocities in a city that is still recovering from the cold-blooded murder of another innocent victim, rugby player Shane Geoghegan, last November.
Shane Geoghegan’s killing was described as a “watershed”. The city and the country united in revulsion and it seemed that a new resolve to confront the gangs had been found. Roy Collins’ murder reminds us all that the gangs are as potent and dangerous as ever.
Limerick, however, is not the only city in Ireland cursed by increasingly violent gangs already this year — and remember that’s barely three-and-a-half months old — nine people have been shot to death in Dublin.
The seed of Thursday’s killing was, almost unbelievably, the refusal by Roy Collins’ barman cousin Ryan Lee to admit Annabell Dundon, the 14-year-old sister of notorious crime boss Wayne Dundon, to a pub.
Wayne Dundon remonstrated with Ryan Lee. Lee did not buckle and Dundon made the shape of a gun with his hand, pushed it against the barman’s head and told Ryan: “F**k you — you’re dead”, before storming
off. Less than half an hour later a gunman wearing a motorcycle helmet walked into the pub and shot Lee in the right hip. The assailant turned to walk away, but walked back and fired a shot from close range into the left side of Lee’s groin.
All because he rightly refused to allow a child into a bar. Dundon was arrested the following day.
Later extensive damage was caused to the pub in an arson attack.
While Dundon awaited trial for threatening to kill Lee, a sinister note was delivered to the home of Ryan Lee’s girlfriend warning of further attacks. Sadly, the saga does not end there, but some things are clear.
These people have no regard for anyone or anything but themselves. They are not constrained by the disciplines that allow communities to live together without violence or murder.
Despite the efforts and considerable success of the gardaí, these inhuman killers have an impact on this society that cannot be tolerated. The sanctions imposed by the courts are not deterring them and we have a stark choice. Either we accept the killings or impose sanctions that will work.
Tomorrow Limerick will show its real face to the world when the Welsh Ospreys come to town for a Heineken European Cup quarter-final.
It will be a place and event of great warmth, passionate commitment, communal celebration, professionalism and, above all, honesty. It will show that city and all of the region and its people at its very best.
We cannot allow these criminals to continue to threaten the values and society that will be seen at Thomond Park tomorrow afternoon.
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