Gerry O'Carroll: Crime didn't pay for seven thugs, let's make it that way for all of them
IT'S all so familiar.
Last week the gang that raided and ransacked the home of Mark and Emma Corcoran and their three young children were jailed for a total of 105 years.
The sentences were fitting and the savagery inflicted on the Corcoran family on November, 21 2013 has ensured they have received widespread publicity.
But one part of the case was predictable.
Before sentences were handed down, gardai told the court that the seven men before them had clocked up a staggering 315 previous convictions for a litany of crimes ranging from criminal damage and assault to theft, burglaries, drug offences, violent disorders and a variety of road traffic offences.
Bear in mind that the eldest of this crew was 27.
Despite their past crimes, last week's sentences ensure that the gang, including the loud-mouthed Thomas Flynn, will spend the next few years staring at four walls.
That's some comfort, because what is truly frightening about this new breed of armed burglars, epitomised by this gang, is the sickening level of violence that they deploy.
Victim Mark Corcoran was savagely beaten and suffered a fractured eye socket. The gang also threatened to cut off his feet and murder his daughters.
The terrifying details of the Corcorans' ordeal have sent shivers down the spines of people right across the country.
The alarming increase in burglaries nationwide is a source of great worry and fear for many householders, especially the elderly and those living alone. Rural areas have been hit - but these crimes occur in Dublin too.
One small positive is the progress made by gardai over the last number of years in tackling the issue.
Operation Acer and Fiacla have targeted persistent burglars. That's welcome but as long as garda numbers remain as low as they are the gangs will continue to operate.
Increasing these numbers is vital.
But the law also needs to change. This week the Justice Minister intends to bring a bill before the Dail which will target career burglars, enabling District Court judges to apply mandatory consecutive sentences for multiple offences committed over a 12-month period.
The bill will also propose that bail be curtailed for burglars who have previous convictions. If this law is effected it will be down to the judges to implement it.
On that note, I commend Judge Thomas Teehan for sending out a clear message that predatory criminals like the thugs jailed last week will pay a heavy price for their crimes.
And one more thing. If you think this shower of thugs were seasoned criminals think again. Some of them were handed 20 year sentences in jail and for what?
Just €1,300 in cash and some jewellery. The old line is true. Crime - in this case the ultra-violent and cowardly type - simply doesn't pay.
Gardai must investigate shocking fire safety breaches at Longboat Quay
THE effects of the Celtic Tiger continue to be felt - eight years after the beast disappeared.
Most particularly in the shoddy building work carried out by cowboy developers.
Last week, owners and residents of the Longboat Quay apartment complex were served with a fire safety notice by Dublin Fire Brigade.
The residents have been given just one month to come up with €4.75m for safety improvements on this firetrap apartment complex, or be forced to leave the building.
Some residents are facing bills of up to €18,000 for work to make their apartments fireproof.
This apartment complex was developed and built by a company owned by Bernard McNamara. His companies including the one that built Longboat Quay have since gone into receivership, with debts of at least €1.5bn.
This effectively means that McNamara, himself a bankrupt, can walk away and wash his hands of this debacle.
Meanwhile, residents have to find millions of euro to carry out these fire safety repairs. This is a shocking state of affairs that urgently requires government or Dublin City Council intervention.
The trauma and worry being endured by the residents of Longboat Quay is similar to that experience by the residents of the Priory Hall complex.
The unfortunate residents, who are blameless in this mess, must not and should not be liable for one cent to address this scandalous situation.
In fact they should be compensated for the suffering and trauma they are now going through.
A way must be found to make McNamara liable for these repairs.
Until it is, the garda should investigate any criminal breaches of the law.
Cathriona was more than just a celeb's girlfriend
Cathriona White and Jim Carrey
My heart goes out to the family of tragic Cathriona White
The young Irishwoman died tragically in Los Angeles last week, where she lived having emigrated from Co Tipperary a few years back.
She hit the headlines on the gossip sites on foot of her relationship with Hollywood star Jim Carrey, of course, but it's clear that Cathriona was far more than just a celebrity girlfriend.
A talented make-up artist, she had worked on a number of movies, including the crime thriller Solitude.
Amid all the headlines, the reports of medications and speculation, it should not be forgotten that there is a grieving family at the centre of this tragic story.
To lose a daughter or a sibling is horrendous at any time - when the deceased lived so far from home it can only be worse.
My thoughts are with Cathriona's family.
It's not every day that Ireland can claim a Nobel Prize winner. So congrats to Donegal's Prof William Campbell who, at 85, was this week awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine. The Trinity College-educated scientist won the prize for discovering a groundbreaking parasite-fighting drug. What an achievement.
Blind mum Suzanne O'Connor, from Co Westmeath, has twice been prosecuted by An Post for not having a TV Licence. She is entitled to a free licence and yet she has been taken to court on two occasions. Where is the compassion here? An Post should hang their heads in shame - and someone should sort this out.