herald

Saturday 24 August 2019

Gardai seize deadly knives just days after stab death of Azzam

Knives confiscated by Gardai
Knives confiscated by Gardai

This frightening photograph of five knives shows the dangerous weapons that gardai have confiscated from young people in north county Dublin alone in the last week.

Two kitchen knives, a folding hunting knife, a box-cutter and a scalpel, as well as a hammer, were all taken from youths during searches.

Gardai have posted the image on Facebook as a warning to parents to make sure they know what their children are up to.

Parents are being urged to report any sightings of weapons to gardai so that more knives can be taken off the streets.

Knife crime came to prominence most recently when south Dublin teenager Azzam Raguragui was stabbed to death in a park in Dundrum on May 10.

Attack

Gardai are continuing to investigate the attack on Azzam (18), as well as an alleged knife attack in Rathfarnham a short time later which left a teenager with a leg injury. It is not known if the incidents are connected.

Azzam's killing was raised in the Dail by Labour leader Brendan Howlin, who said knife crime was now becoming more common. He said 264 knives were seized by gardai in the first six weeks of this year alone.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar also commented, saying: "I'm not quite sure if it is the case that knife crimes are as frequent here as they are in the UK, but they certainly are occurring and they should be of concern to all of us."

Concerns are mounting that more and more teenagers are carrying knives either to inflict harm or protect themselves.

Figures released by gardai to Fianna Fail justice spokesman Jim O'Callaghan recently showed a 66pc increase in knife seizures since 2016.

Some 2,000 knives were seized in 2018 compared with 1,600 in 2017 and 1,200 in 2016.

Gardai said most of the weapons were taken from young people during stop-and-search operations.

"The increased seizure of knives reveals that many young men think it is acceptable to carry knives," said Mr O'Callaghan.

"It is important that people are aware that carrying knives for no lawful purpose is not permitted and will be severely punished.

"The Firearms and Offensive Weapons Act 1990 imposes a maximum sentence of five years and/or a fine for carrying a knife that is intended to incapacitate or injure another person.

"The maximum sentence needs to be increased so that there is a real deterrent for carrying knives in public."

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