Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Ordinary decent criminal

Wayne was in the house last week. You may have heard. He's being mistreated and hassled, apparently. What do you think? Pah.

Rather than come up with a fresh, pensive opinion piece on it, The Board is going to re-hash an editorial he wrote about it all for last week's Leader, which Wayne - being an aggreived customers of ours, natch - surely read 11 times.

"Both the cause and effect of violent crime were clearly visible in Limerick this week.

On Monday, as Ireland legend Niall Quinn arrived in the city to announce details of a charity soccer match in aid of the Shane Geoghegan Trust, Wayne Dundon, one of Limerick’s most violent criminals, spoke out against alleged press intrusion into his life.

For a man like Dundon, the most senior figure in the Dundon-McCarthy crime gang and someone who thrives off an aura of silent menace, to simply walk into the Limerick Leader offices and bare his soul was extraordinary.

He spoke of his apparent feelings of hurt, fear and anger about the “innuendo” with which he is portrayed in the local and national media. He dismissed the feelings of Steve Collins, whose son Roy was murdered by a member of the Dundon-McCarthy gang last year and – to the derision of many – claimed he is afraid to set foot outside his home in Ballinacurra Weston, for fear that he is accused of threatening Roy Collins.

It is bitterly ironic that it was the publication in several newspapers, including this one, of photographs of his daughter’s Communion celebrations that sparked Dundon’s indignation.

It is understandable that Wayne Dundon and his wife are protective of the feelings of their seven-year-old daughter, but Roy Collins was murdered a month before his own daughter made her Communion – gunned down by James Dillon, a junior member of the Dundon-McCarthy gang.

Hardened gangland criminals do not exist in the same society as the rest of us. We may walk the same footpaths and breathe the same air, but they live outside our world of decency and respect for life beyond our own.

But what drove Wayne Dundon to allow his feelings to become known to the wider public?

Five weeks ago, he was released from prison after serving five years for threatening to kill Ryan Lee, Roy Collins’s first cousin, in December 2004. His release was met with trepidation by those who value safety and calm on the city’s streets.

However, Dundon this week insisted that since then, he has become a virtual recluse. Dundon has undoubtedly been shaken by the fierce, brave and relentless actions of Steve Collins and his public quest for the men who orchestrated his son’s murder to be brought to justice.

James Dillon, the 24-year-old who pulled the trigger, has now begun a life sentence for Roy Collins’s murder, but his father does not believe that this is enough. If he does feel that he is an undeserving target of Steve Collins’ ire, Wayne Dundon will find little sympathy among the ordinary people ofLimerick.

However, crime is not simply the property of urban estates and nefarious ganglords. At a meeting of the Joint Policing Committee in County Hall last Friday, Chief Supt David Sheahan praised garda efforts in securing a 21 percent drop in reported crime in county Limerick in the first four months of 2010.

In particular there was an 18 per cent decrease in burglaries and a 36per cent fall in firearms offences. This, coupled with tougher drug enforcement measures, has enabled gardai in our towns and villages to continue fighting crime on their terms.

However none of us can take the peace and order that we all seek to live by for granted.

Crime in Limerick city and county is itself just a consequence of the poverty and social exclusion that creates a world where gangland criminals flourish.

The rigorous work of the gardai and the ruthless honesty of men like Steve Collins may crack the dangerous facades that criminals spend their lives building. But it may never be enough.

Our society is unforgiving of serious criminals but is far too quick to accept as fact the world that they come from. We must all continue to look beyond headlines and photographs and statistics.

Crime, like so much else, is about cause and effect."

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