herald

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Only tougher sentences will put brakes on brutal killings

Over an 11-hour period last Sunday night, mayhem came to the streets of Dublin's north inner city, resulting in the appalling, savage murder of father-of-two Kieran Farrelly, also known as Kieran Brooks.

Mr Farrelly was blasted in the chest and face with a shotgun at point blank rage just before midnight. His terrified partner witnessed his brutal murder.

Some six hours later, a homeless man sleeping rough in Talbot Street had to be hospitalised after a savage assault.

The trail of destruction on the streets of our capital city mirrored the stomach-churning violence and blood-letting seen in TV hit Love/Hate.

Last July, acting Garda Commissioner Noreen O'Sullivan appeared before the Dail's Public Accounts Committee.

She warned of "a rush to violence" that was making this country a far more dangerous place to live in.

Ms O'Sullivan made her comments in relation to the latest CSO crime figures, which showed an alarming rise of almost 50pc in the murder rate over the previous year.

They also revealed that between 2008 and 2012 there was a significant increase in serious crimes and violence.

Kidnappings were up almost a third, robberies by 24pc and burglaries by 14pc.

I must agree with Ms O'Sullivan when she says our society has deteriorated. We are forced to accept the reality that our little country has become a far more dangerous place over the past decade.

In the wake of all this, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald must take urgent action. May I remind her that her party has always waved the banner that they stand for law and order.

Garda numbers have now fallen below 13,000, the crucial number that was once stated as the red line for proper professional policing of this country.

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The current garda recruitment campaign of 300 members over the next year is hopelessly inadequate.

An Garda Siochana is overstretched and under-resourced, with an ageing transport fleet and morale at an all-time low.

There are glaring shortcomings in our judicial system when it comes to sentencing for serious crimes such as murder, manslaughter and rape.

There needs to be a root and branch examination of our entire justice system. The truth is that sentences handed down no longer act as a deterrent.

For many years I have argued that those convicted of murder and manslaughter should serve a minimum of 25 years without parole.

Only when realistic sentences are handed down will public confidence be restored in the administration of justice.

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