A gunman opened fire on a house in the Coolock area in the early hours of Sunday morning, killing Donna Clery. She was struck in the upper body and died a short time later. The mother of a three-year-old, she had been earlier been attending a fortieth birthday party at a local GAA club.
Gardai believe the shooting may have been linked to an incident in which a group of men had attempted to gain entry to the party but were turned away. An automatic pistol was used in the attack, leading to calls for a clampdown on the growing presence of such weapons in Ireland.
A 24-year-old man held in connection to the shooting died in Garda custody Monday night. Dwane Foster, who at one stage had been taken to Beaumont hospital after complaining of severe headaches, was found dead in his cell at Coolock garda station at around 3:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning.
From Finglas, he was reported to have been suffering from throat cancer and last year sustained serious injuries in a motorcycle accident. A gardai spokesman denied that Foster had been in any way maltreated and said that neither he, nor his solicitor, had made any complaints about maltreatment.
The Labour party’s justice spokesman, Joe Costello, said the case should be dealt with the newly-appointed garda ombudsman and that an internal garda inquiry would not be sufficient.
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern had earlier described the shooting death of Clery as a “new low” while Minister for Justice Michael McDowell said it was a “watershed” moment in Irish life.
Ahern said the killing had made him wonder whether current sentencing for serious crime was “just too lenient.”
“Someone coming back indiscriminately, blasting five rounds into the front room of a small house and to kill a 22-year-old mother, it’s hard to think of anything that could be much lower than that.
“When you see the amount of crimes and gun crimes, it just makes you feel that perhaps we’re just too lenient,” he said.
McDowell said Monday that a gun amnesty would form part of his new Criminal Justice Bill, which is to be put before the Dail soon. He said this was in direct response to the weekend killing.
“This is a horrific crime, an innocent young mother shot by some savages who had a wanton disregard of life,” he said.
“Clearly if an automatic pistol is going to be used in circumstances such as these we all need to reflect on what kind of society we have and that applies to everybody, not just the Minister for Justice.”
Murders increased by 46 percent in Ireland last year amid a spate of gangland-related killings.