Gerry O'Carroll: Kids caught in the firing line - it's a sad indictment of our society today
Last Saturday morning an 11-year old boy was shot in the arm when his home in Tallaght was attacked by a gang of thugs armed with guns and other deadly weapons.
During this terrifying incident the raiders smashed up the house and three caravans that were parked on the grounds.
The attack and shooting came just hours after another, unrelated attack in west Dublin.
A number of hours earlier, at about 9pm on Friday, another young child was lucky to escape with her life.
The six-year-old girl was a passenger on a moped driven by her father, Stephen Smith, on Cleggan Road, Ballyfermot, when gunmen opened fire, wounding him in both legs.
It was a miracle that the little girl escaped without serious injury.
Last June another child was not so lucky. Little Sean Scully, aged seven, was playing outside his home at Crosswood Grove, Ballyfermot, just a few hundred yards from where Stephen Smith was shot.
He was hit when a gunman opened fire in the area, injuring innocent Sean in the spine as the man missed his intended target.
The little boy is now paralysed from the waist down and confined to a wheelchair.
By an extraordinary coincidence the little girl who narrowly escaped death and witnessed the horrified ordeal of seeing her father being shot was also a witness to the shooting of Sean Scully last year.
Elsewhere, last year, a mannamed Declan Smith was shot dead in Donaghmede as he was dropping off his child to a crèche.
Innocent families were bringing their children to the creche at the time.
All these incidents are linked in one way - each one has seen children placed in the way of lethal violence by ruthless Dublin gunmen.
Our youngest and most vulnerable are now in the firing line and gangland's psychotic hoodlums show a callous and total disregard for the safety of youngsters or other innocents.
In their mindless pursuit of criminality they have abandoned any last vestiges of humanity and decency.
These hapless, violent thugs seem to be oblivious to the terror misery and trauma they inflict on innocent children and their families who are confronted with the awful spectacle of an injured or tramatised child.
These latest incidents highlight in a disturbing way the real and deadly danger to children who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
How long will it be before a child is killed as a result of this violence?
Such a scenario doesn't bear thinking about.
But one thing does merit reflection - it is a sickening and shocking indictment of Irish society that children are now in the firing line.
Work's over for the day? It's time to get the sardine tin home
During a recent visit to Dublin I decided to visit my old stomping ground in Bray for a nostalgic day trip - I was stationed there back in 2000 as a garda inspector.
Instead of driving I took the DART from Tara Street. I was looking forward to a comfortable ride.
Instead I had to stand most of the way, packed like a sardine with hardly room to breathe. Even making allowances for rush hour it was jammed.
It was around 6pm when I boarded. It was an unpleasant and uncomfortable journey.
I spoke to a number of equally disgruntled commuters who bitterly complained that chronic overcrowding was now the norm on most DART services at rush hour.
Indeed, packed and overcrowded trains are not the sole preserve of the DART.
On a number of recent visits to Dublin I had same experience on the Mallow to Dublin Inter City train.
Whichever weekends I travelled, I found them crammed and overcrowded with many people forced to stand for most of the journey.
I cannot understand why extra carriages are not provided for the growing number of people availing of the service.
This is only an occasional inconvenience for me as I use the Inter City service infrequently.
However, rail overcrowding is a different kettle of fish for the commuters in Dublin who are subjected to chronic cramming on DART and on commuter rail, according to recent media reports.
Last Sunday I read that a number of DART and Irish Rail carriages are lying idle - a quiet incredible state of affairs, especially given the fare increases of recent years. Talk about adding insult to injury.
Community is the greatest comfort
Three years ago my youngest brother Louis (above) was knocked down and killed in his native town in Listowel. His untimely and tragic death was an enormous and devastating loss for our family.
As well as being my beloved brother he was also my best friend and confidante. We were, as they say, joined at the hip. In fact his sudden death left a gaping void in the lives of all who knew him.
Last Saturday night, a memorial concert was held in his honour at St John's Hall in Listowel. Louis' family and friends packed the little hall to pay tribute to him.
It was a highly charged and emotional evening and at the end of the show there wasn't a dry eye in the house. Thanks to all the musicians and performers for making it such a memorable occasion - and a special thanks to Pat Dempsey.
I also want to pay a heartfelt and sincere thanks to the people of Listowel for their support and friendship from all the O'Carroll family. In the fast moving and busy world we all live in we can often forget the value of community - but when we need it, it's often there. So it was last weekend.
Congratulations to Dublin golfer Padraig Harrington, one of the greatest Irish sportsmen and a true gentleman to boot. After a nail-biting finish, he won the Honda Classic this week, thereby ending a seven-year title drought on the PGA and European tours.
Harrington's found his mojo again and hopefully he will go on to take another one of the big classics very soon. What with this and our rugby victory we are now in sporting heaven!
LOWLIFE Wesley Brennan went on a dating website and ended up, not in love, but jailed for 18 months. What he did was despicable. Brennan met his victim on a dating site and after taking a trip in her car he started shouting at her over her driving skills, ordered her out, drove off and later sold the vehicle. What a gentleman. Judge Martin Nolan hit the nail on the head when he described Brennan as "a bit lacking in the chivalry stakes". I must say I completely agree.