Five murders in the space of 10 days led one psychiatrist to state at the weekend that Ireland was undergoing a “moral relaxation” and a leading criminologist to predict that the murder rate is only set to increase.
Kildare mother-of-three Frances Ralph, 46, was laid to rest Monday after having been stabbed to death while waiting for a taxi in the town of Naas last week.
She was stabbed in the back five times in an apparently unprovoked and random slaying.
John Egan, who’s 49, of Poplar Grove in Naas, was charged with her murder Friday. He is denying the charge.
The stabbing victim had been celebrating her 25th wedding anniversary and was standing at a taxi rank on Naas’ main street with her husband when the attack happened. She had three teenage sons, one of whom is due to start secondary school next month.
The Naas killing came only five days after that of Oliver Leacy, also in Kildare. The 51-year-old was beaten to death by a mob after attempting to come to the rescue of two youths who were being attacked outside his home in Leixlip.
The two murders coincided with a spate of so-called “gangland” killings that left three men dead. Vincent O’Brien, 53, was gunned down in his home in Bray, Co. Wicklow on August 10 as he ate a Chinese takeaway.
This was followed by the shooting death of Eric Cummins, 29, in Ballincollig, Cork, on Aug. 13. He was murdered in front of his partner and his 18-month-old son.
The body of the third victim, Andrew Dillon, 29, was discovered in a ditch in Finglas, north Dublin on Thursday, Aug. 18. He had died of gunshot wounds. Gardai were unable to say whether he had been killed at the scene or if his body had been dumped there.
The five murders brought the statewide toll for the year to 32, 13 of which are believed to have been gangland related. In 2004, 36 murders were reported in total leading to concerns that the violence rate will continue to escalate.
Professor Patricia Casey was reported as saying that a growing culture of “individualism” in Irish society was contributing to the apparent crime spree.
Criminologist Paul O’Mahony, meanwhile, said the figures for murders came as no surprise and that they had been on the rise since in the mid-1990s.
“The rate will continue to grow and, in all probability get worse,” he was quoted as saying.