herald

Thursday 17 January 2019

Gerry O'Carroll: Day I nicked an armed robber -- and found a starlet in bed with him

IT was a cold, wet morning in the late 1970s when I walked up to the door of the house with the warrant in my hand.

Along with other detective gardai, I was about to arrest a notorious armed robber, who we knew was sleeping in the south Dublin property.

We charged through the front door, up the stairs and straight into the bedroom. Our man was between the sheets alright. But so was an up-and-coming starlet -- his girlfriend at the time.

Like her boyfriend, she was put in cuffs and arrested under section 30 of the Offences Against The State Act, brought to the Bridewell Garda Station, and questioned.

Needless to say, the glamour of being a gangster's girlfriend faded fairly quickly as she was hauled, half asleep, out of the scratcher.

GRIM

I'm recounting the tale today because I was reminded of it when I read of the case of 'glam gun- runner' Deirdre Moran.

She wasn't the first gangster's girlfriend who fell from grace here, as that arrest 30 years ago proves.

Nonetheless, many readers will be shocked on reading about her crime. The young mum was jailed for transporting a gun belonging to the gang headed by murdered mobster Eamon 'The Don' Dunne.

She was sentenced to a mandatory five years in prison for transporting a silver Smith and Wesson revolver.

This 26-year-old, from a respectable family, became embroiled in gun crime when she got involved with a man who was an alleged associate of Dunne. As this young woman begins her sentence, I'm sure the grim reality of it will hit her like a ton of bricks.

She finds herself languishing in prison and contemplating the bleak prospect of five years deprived of her freedom and the company of her little child.

She has brought ruin on herself and shame on her family.

And for what? The so-called glamorous -- and temporary -- life of the gangster's moll?

JAILBIRD

On the face of it the sentence may seem a harsh one for a young mother who was of previous good character, but transporting and concealing a lethal weapon for an organised crime gang is a very serious offence.

Who knows what crime this gun was to be linked to? Ms Moran cannot be as naive as her counsel argued in court. She is, or was, the manager of a clothes store, an intelligent woman.

She cannot claim to have been ignorant of the repercussions of being found in possession of a gun.

The saga of Moran and her descent from respectability to the life of a prison jailbird is a morality tale, a salutary lesson for any young woman tempted by the flashy lures of gangsters' easy cash.

It is easy to see how an impressionable young woman could by dazzled by gangsters who have all the trappings of an MTV lifestyle -- champagne-fuelled nights out and fancy foreign holidays.

MILK

How quickly that life turns to shame, when you end up at breakfast in the Dochas Prison asking the Scissor Sisters to pass the milk.

For the record, the celebrity I arrested was not prosecuted in the end. To be fair to her, she was not involved in crime herself but had fallen for the wrong guy.

She went on to develop a high media profile in subsequent years -- and strangely never once mentioned the day a certain Det Garda O'Carroll kicked her door in.

Cronies stuffed on State boards must go

A LEOPARD never changes its spots.

During the Dail's Christmas recess, as we were all snowed in and stuffing our turkeys, Fianna Fail were stuffing something else -- State boards with some of their cronies.

Will they ever learn? Despite all the criticism of clientelism, the Republican Party -- aided by the Green Party -- just carried on regardless.

Is there any wonder that this condemned Government is now the most despised and distrusted in the history of the State?

Despite the odium caused by allegations of Golden Circles and Galway Tent culture, the Government filled 90 posts on State boards with their appointees, without independent scrutiny.

Is it any wonder that the whole country is praying to see the end of this shower?

I am not casting aspersions on the integrity of those appointed to the boards in question.

My criticism -- and that of most fair-minded people -- is that these appointments lacked transparency and openness.

Many of these are hugely important public positions, the filling of which should be open to public scrutiny. They should not be conferred because of political affiliation as some have been.

I believe that the appointees should themselves resign, to avoid being impugned by being given a job in such a fly-by-night, rushed fashion.

If not, they should be removed, and an open competition held for the posts.

Because the Government clearly considered them the best suited for the job they would naturally get their positions back. Wouldn't they?

Ladies, for all our sakes, bury the hatchet

ONE of the great Irish feuds is still simmering away -- and both protagonists frankly terrify me.

Two revered matrons of Irish light entertainment, Linda Martin and Twink, are hard at it again.

The latest outbreak of hostilities in the ongoing tit-for-tat warfare between the two saw Twink advise Linda to take HRT tablets because she's "banging on".

For her part, Linda says she "can't forgive" and "can't forget" some other comment that Twink made, sometime, somewhere.

The origins of this spat now appear lost in the mists of time, such has been the endless to-ing and fro-ing between the pair.

In God's name, can we take any more?

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