herald

Saturday 23 September 2017

Cowardly thugs who use knives should be locked away for 10 years

Bridie Smith was stabbed
Bridie Smith was stabbed

I was reminded once again of the scourge of knife crime in our capital city when I viewed the stomach-churning photos in newspapers last week.

The graphic images showed pools of blood on the street after the stabbing of a young man in Dalkey on Christmas Eve. The victim almost lost an eye in the attack.

A 17-year-old was arrested and questioned over the incident. Then, on New Year's Day, 72-year-old mother Bridie Smith was stabbed in the chest on the doorstep of her home in Ballyfermot and remains in a serious condition in hospital.

Sadly, these people will not be the last or only victims of knife crime in 2017 as its frequency continues unabated.

Consequences

I have always regarded knife attacks as particularly vicious, nasty and reprehensible crimes. Those who carry blades are cowards.

During my time in An Garda Siochana I was involved in the investigation of many knife murders, and I have seen at first hand the lethal consequences that even a single stab can cause.

Sadly, there is a growing knife culture, especially among young male adults who consider the carrying of blades as both glamorous and macho.

When I was stationed in Crumlin in the mid-80s and early 90s I was involved in two of the most tragic knife crimes in the history of the State.

The cold-blooded and senseless killings of these fine young men in separate knife attacks deeply upset me.

The first victim was 19-year-old Keith Wall, an apprentice mechanic attached to Baldonnel who was stabbed on Balfe Road in Walkinstown 1992.

The second was a 16-year-old called Glen Ward who was stabbed to death in 1993 in Drimnagh.

I was so shocked and saddened by the deaths of these two young men and the devastation and pain inflicted on their distraught families that I was moved to highlight the dangers of knife crime.

Along with other like-minded people, I helped spearhead a campaign called Bin the Blade.

We lobbied government ministers and held a press conference in Buswells Hotel in Molesworth Street attended by various TDs, the heads of the GRA and ASGI and the CEOs of many of the youth organisations in the city.

Woeful

Chief among our demands were calls for tougher sentences for knife crime, a knife amnesty and the installation of metal bins outside major sports and youth clubs and venues where knives could be taken off the streets and disposed of.

The campaign received overwhelming public and media support, but the Government's response was simply woeful.

Now, hardly a month goes by without us hearing of savage woundings and murders in which knives have been used.

Knife attacks are despicable and heinous acts, sometimes carried out in a gratuitous and random fashion and often with fatal consequences.

I believe that our laws and our courts should reflect soci- ety's abhorrence at these terrible crimes.

There should be a mandatory seven to 10 years behind bars for anyone convicted of a serious knife offence.

Only these kinds of measures will end this scourge for good.

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