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'They say the Hutch, Byrne and latest Ryan shooting are not linked. I disagree'

These murders are part of the same phenomenon of gun and drugs related crime that has blighted decent communities across Dublin, writes Tom Clonan.

ANOTHER DAY IN Dublin, another gangland shooting. The murder of Vincent Ryan on Mc Kee Road in Finglas comes within weeks of the shooting of Eddie Hutch and David Byrne. Crime Correspondents and gardaí have stated that the murders are ‘not linked’.

I disagree. These murders are part of the same phenomenon of gun and drugs related crime that has blighted decent communities across Dublin. Whilst Ireland’s murder rate is broadly similar to our EU neighbours, homicides by firearm in the Republic are approximately five times higher than the European average.

The same phenomenon of gun and drugs related crime 

Monday’s killing, like other recent gun slayings, involved the use of automatic weapons in a quiet residential area. Because the killing happened in Finglas, the news narrative around the murder ‘normalises’ it.

Because the killing happened in a working class area of Dublin, our politicians appear unperturbed by it. There has been no comment from the Taoiseach. No statement from our Minister for Justice.

29/2/2016 Vincent Ryan Shootings Crime Scenes

Let me tell you a little bit about Mc Kee Road in Finglas. Professor Sir Stephen O’Rahilly grew up on this street. In 2013, this former resident of Mc Kee Road – now Professor of Clinical Biochemistry and Medicine at Cambridge University – was awarded an OBE for ground breaking medical research. As a child, Stephen would have played on the little green just yards from where Vincent Ryan was executed.

Mc Kee Road was also home to another young Finglas man, Garda Anthony Griffith, who died in a tragic road traffic accident a number of years ago. His family still live on Mc Kee Road – within earshot of yesterday’s gun attack. Helen O’Rahilly, the high-profile television producer with the BBC and RTE also grew up on Mc Kee Road in Finglas.  Dermot Bolger, the author and writer grew up around the corner from where Vincent Ryan was butchered.

Growing up in Finglas

I know this because I grew up on Ballygall Avenue in Finglas – just around the corner from Mc Kee Road. These Finglas natives were my neighbours. As a small boy, I walked to mass along Mc Kee Road holding my mother’s hand. I explored Mc Kee Road and Finglas Park on my little red bicycle as a youngster. I walked up Mc Kee Road every week with my older sisters to piano lessons in Mrs Moran’s house on Clancy Road. My Finglas neighbours were and are a decent, hard working and warm community.

Finglas is not the set of Love Hate. It is a real community with real people.

29/2/2016 Vincent Ryan Shootings Crime Scenes

Vincent Ryan was shot, execution style as he sat in his white Golf GTI. Newspaper reports and eyewitness accounts state that he was shot three times. Twice in the chest area and once in the neck or throat. Photographs of his car show a number of distinct bullet holes in the windscreen. The ‘grouping’ or pattern of shot demonstrate a deliberate intention to shoot to kill.

Lucky no child was killed 

The shooting took place at around 3pm in the afternoon. At that time, children from St Canices Boys and St Canices Girls National schools would have been walking home along Mc Kee Road. It is a miracle that no innocent bystander was killed in the gun attack.

The killers showed no regard for human life in the assault on Ryan. There are no guarantees of safety for many Dublin communities who have in recent times become terrorised and intimidated by drug and gun criminals. Other victims in this particular feud, Alan Ryan and Declan Smith were shot by automatic weapons in residential streets – one outside a busy crèche.

29/2/2016 Vincent Ryan Shootings Crime Scenes

The cycle of revenge shootings and parallel feuding in Dublin resembles very closely the tit for tat cycles of sectarian killings associated with the Troubles.  During the Troubles however, this type of violence would not have been tolerated in our capital city by the Irish government.

As an Army Officer who participated in armed support operations to An Garda Siochana at that time, I can personally attest to the fact that in the 1980s and 1990s, such executions by the Provisional IRA – in broad daylight – would not have been permitted by the powers that be.

Drug gangs have free reign

Today’s successors to the paramilitaries of the Troubles – heavily armed drug gangs and so-called dissident Republicans have virtual free rein to carry out planned executions across the city.

Despite Frances Fitzgerald’s much vaunted ‘ring of steel’ in the city, armed assassins are acting with confidence and near impunity in working class areas of Dublin.

All of the Garda representative associations are unanimous in their assertion that successive cuts and austerity measures have robbed them of the ability to tackle organised crime and narco-terrorism in Dublin. It is my belief that successive governments have sleep walked into a situation where heavily armed gangs have become a law unto themselves in our capital city.

29/2/2016 Vincent Ryan Shootings Crime Scenes Leon Farrell Leon Farrell

Perhaps this is because the principal targets of these shootings are working class males with criminal records – as opposed to judges, senior police officers and TDs as was the case during the Troubles.

If this is the case it represents a grave error of judgement and a failure of political leadership in the Departments of Justice and An Taoiseach.

If the recent gun killings had happened in Castlebar or in Frances Fitzgerald’s home town of Croom in Co. Limerick, there would be – quite rightly – a national uproar. Our urban and rural communities deserve proper, well resourced community policing.

We need to reclaim our streets

As a Republic, we need to reclaim the streets of our capital city from drug crime. We need to re-imagine and re-invigorate community relationships with An Garda Siochana. In partnership, we need to eradicate and contain drug related crime in our city streets.

We need the resources to tackle the full spectrum of drug crime – from the widespread antisocial behavior, petty crime and shooting-up that takes place in our city streets, to the armed killings that have become a regular feature of gang feuds.

Let’s hope the next Taoiseach and cabinet ministers have the vision and leadership skills to restore faith in the administration of justice in Ireland.

Dr Tom Clonan is a former Captain in the Irish armed forces. He is a security analyst and academic, lecturing in the School of Media in DIT. He is also an Independent candidate for Senate-TCD Panel. You can follow him on Twitter here.      

Read: ‘It’s no surprise there are shootings on our streets. There is a gaping hole in gangland intelligence’>

Read: What’s the best way to destroy violent gangs? Legalise the drugs>

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