Gerry O'Carroll: Gardai need more, not less, guns to fight scum
IT IS an all-too-familiar scene on the streets of our capital city. Last Sunday night yet another gun victim lay gravely wounded, fighting for his life on the bloodstained pavements of a Dublin housing estate.
This type of shooting is now such a regular and routine occurrence -- at almost one a week -- that they merit only a few minutes on the news bulletins or one-day story in the papers.
The latest incident in the ongoing gang wars that are blighting entire communities was the callous shooting of 30-year-old Robert Ryle.
Ryle was shot in the neck and chest in front of his girlfriend.
It is reported that the shooter may have been the same man who shot brothers Ken and Paul Corbally a short distance away just four months earlier.
Our country now has the unenviable reputation of being one of the major blackspots for gun murders in western Europe.
But despite the best efforts of our serious crime teams, the Organised Crime Unit and the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the level of intimidation means that convictions for gun murders here are pitifully low.
Recently enacted legislation to combat underworld crime has yet to prove its effectiveness. Meanwhile, coked-up young psychopaths, like the man who shot Robert Ryle, consider themselves to be above the law, operating with callous disregard for human life.
And not just disregard for the lives of their targets. One of the shocking circumstances in last Sunday's attack was the proximity of young children to the scene.
As the gunman was pumping bullets into Robert Ryle, kids were playing on a nearby green, just metres away.
And an innocent woman was sitting in a car, just inches away from Ryle, when the gunman opened fire.
Tragically -- it is only a matter of time before a child or innocent passer-by falls victim to these killers.
It is now clear that Dublin's gangland assassins are equipped for their work with a fearsome armoury of modern weapons.
In recent times we've seen Ingram machine pistols and rocket launchers controlled by the Freddie Thompson crime gang seized.
The souped-up weapons used by organised crime gangs, such as the Ingram, have a fearsome rate of fire and can barely be controlled by professionals, let alone brainless fools already on drink and drugs when they carry out their attacks.
In the Corbally murder, an innocent 14-year-old boy was shot and hospitalised. Four years ago, we had the murder of young Anthony Campbell, shot dead by an assassin who murdered Marlo Hyland at a west Dublin house and turned the gun on Campbell.
I recently read with disbelief that, in the spiral of lawlessness and gun crime, some bright sparks want to take firearms away from detective units.
The plan is that these detectives would be just case investigators, Inspector Morse-type characters who operate in a genteel environment and don't carry weapons.
What utter nonsense. I served as a detective for three decades and I can tell you that local detectives are usually first at the scene of major gun-crime incidents.
It would be a retrograde step to disarm them, a move that would put lives of officers at risk.
Armed units exist, but as this paper revealed last week in the case of a shooting in Swords, it can take 30 minutes for armed backup to reach the scene. Armed criminals will be 30 miles from the scene at that point. The idiotic proposal to disarm detectives should be shelved.
Far from stripping the guns from detectives on the ground, the powers-that-be should be kitting up gardai with even more powerful weapons to combat the gun scum in our society.
Building new hospital at Mater site is just madness
LIKE most of us, I have no expertise in the planning and building of hospitals.
But the moment it was announced that the National Children's Hospital was to be put in the grounds of the Mater Hospital, it was clear that Government planners had made a massive mistake.
This proposal didn't make sense on day one and doesn't make sense now.
A huge majority of expert opinion and paediatricians, along with laymen, has argued that the Mater site would be a disaster.
The latest to criticise the plan was a group of leading consultants and members of the Faculty of Paediatrics at the Royal College of Physicians. The medics said they are backing the public who have raised doubts about the practical problems of the site.
Practical problems that could have had an easy solution, when solicitor Noel Smyth had previously offered a greenfield site on the M50 close to Newlands Cross. He presented a cogent plan to the Minister for Health, to site the hospital in west Dublin, to be built at cost price.
That was an extraordinarily generous offer, but the Minister rejected it out of hand and proceeded with the idiot proposal of placing the hospital in an area where the transport links are inadequate, the site is too small and public parking effectively non-existent.
Most important of all, expert reports state that a greenfield site would also be best for young patients, providing them with a better environment in which to recover.
Of course the elephant in the room is that locating the Children's Hospital in the Mater was a sop to the vanity of a certain Drumcondra ward boss and former Taoiseach.
Another fine mess you've gotten us into Mr Ahern.