Priorities; and Separating What is Real from What is Not

(This article originally appeared in Chicago’s “Irish American News” for November 2013)


I’m writing this on a Sunday morning, Ye Editor of the IAN needing any copy in by tomorrow, so information on last night’s drive by shooting in Dublin is scant. Still, what we know of this morning is that a gunman opened fire on a group of people who were standing outside Hanlon’s Pub on the corner of the Old Cabra Road at 2.30 am.  One man was hit in the head and is described as being in a ‘serious condition’.  Also shot but stable are three women aged from 19 to 33 who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Sitting here, I’m struck by a few things, most obvious among them being that even perhaps as recently as some fifteen years ago I would be astonished at finding myself so casually using a phrase like ‘drive by shooting’ in anything relating to Ireland.

You who are reading this will have more information by now; but I’m first of all reminded of my years in Limerick in the late seventies to early eighties, where the Dunne family were reputed to be the first major crime figures to introduce serious drugs to Ireland.  As the last of them was put in jail I recall him saying that if we thought that they were bad we had literally no idea as to what was coming down the road.

Well, he got that one right, didn’t he?

How quickly we have become desensitised to armed criminals virtually taking over the streets, not caring who gets killed as long as they get the one who is standing in their way.  And we just don’t seem to be as outraged at this as we, in the name of human decency, should be.  At one point we were happy to be saying: “Well, as long as they’re only shooting each other, I couldn’t care less.”

And I have to admit to a certain sympathy with that attitude. Yet somehow, along the way, we became disquietingly blasé about the fact that there will be a certain amount of ‘collateral damage.’  And how awful for us as human beings that this appalling phrase so easily trips off the tongue when referring to our unfortunate fellow innocent bystanders.

We just seem to accept now that these thugs, these venomous little scumbags, aren’t even particularly very good at doing what they’re doing. They are so coked up now before a ‘job’ that they’re a liability not only to their own cretinous selves (which I could live with) but to anyone who happens to just be on the streets or in the bar when they go on a rampage.

I’m sick and tired of hearing the cries of ‘when are the Garda going to do their job properly?’  I’m just sick of it.  There are a lot of good cops in Dublin and around the country who would love to be able to take these vermin on; but it’s just easier to wail and moan about them, isn’t it?

Leave aside the fact that they are ridiculously under resourced thanks to a negligent, distant Minister for Justice like Alan Shatter.  Alan doesn’t have to worry about his home being hit.  He has 24 hour protection.  I don’t begrudge him that; but I do begrudge the fact that, isolated in his ivory tower as he is, he doesn’t see that some whole communities live in actual fear of these thugs.

Let’s leave aside, also, the fact that decent cops are so inundated with ridiculous amounts of paperwork now that are solely aimed at looking after the ‘human rights’ of these swine.  What happened to the rights of the taxpayer, Alan? What happened to the rights of the ordinary Paddy and Bridget Q.  Sucker who only want to live their lives in peace, to raise their kids to be good citizens, who just want to be able to enjoy an evening out without the chances of being shot dead?  When are you going to start speaking for them?

And even without those shackles on their hands, how does the average cop feel when he has wasted days in a witness box, doing his job and asking for these ghouls to be put away for a decent amount of time?  How does he feel when after all that it seems that we have a judiciary that seems to be Hell-bent on letting them let out on bail or walking the streets in a few months’ time?

We can take a whole lot of the blame ourselves, too.

I’ve watched in absolute bafflement for the last six days now as more indignation was poured by ordinary people into the killing of a FICTIONAL cat for a FICTIONAL TV show called ‘Love/Hate’ than I am ever likely to see being written about last night’s shootings.

Animal charity groups have been lining up to tell us how terrible it was to see an animal being sprayed with bullets.  The poor thing was even trotted out on The Late Late Show to assure people who seem to have a poor grasp of reality that it is hale and hearty.

What? WHAT? This is a show that has had rape, murder and any amount of violence in it and it takes this to upset people?  I’m a cat lover myself.  There are a lot of gorgeous little felines around here that would go hungry without me; but come on!  It’s a work of fiction, for heaven’s sake!  Try to separate that from reality.  Here’s a clue:  what happened in last week’s episode was made up. What happened in Dublin in the early hours of the morning was real.

Jeez, get a grip, would you?  Sort out your priorities and complain about something that is real.


There you go: I had a nice, hopefully funny article planned for this morning and that’s gone out the window.  Still, with this off my chest, I have to share the best few lines I’ve heard in a while, from a show I’m watching at the moment. It’s called ‘Under the Dome’ and deals with a fictional —fictional, remember?—town that finds itself sealed off by a giant…uh, dome.

“What if the Government built this thing?”

“I doubt it.”


”Because it works.”

I do like that.

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