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Clare McKeon Column: WHAT A TRAGEDY; Car raid leaves five children without a father.

Byline: Clare McKeon

IT'S JUST so sad. Five children have been left without their father and a wife has lost her husband.

Tommy Farrell was killed in his home, allegedly after thieves tried to steal his car, an old 1994 Peugeot.

He died from a stab wound in the back - in full view of two of his children.

I believe this senseless death has shocked and outraged people.

I'm not commenting on the case surrounding Tommy's death, but it seems life has become cheap in Ireland.

I believe there are thugs out on the streets willing to steal anything.

There is a particular problem with cars being stolen or broken into and so-called - and often lethal - 'joyriding'.

All this leads to the strong impression that there is a breakdown of law and order in urban areas.

The Government may claim that crime figures are down, but there is a growing sense of unease at the level of violence in our society.

Although it doesn't often directly affect us, it contributes to the feeling that a certain level of violence is somehow acceptable.

It is bad that we in Ireland are not able to pursue a policy of zero tolerance to all violence.

A 20-year-old youth has been charged with murder.

Mr Farrell's family have had their whole world turned upside down.

They are suffering the agony of bereavement, the children have probably been emotionally scarred for life and the family has been deprived of a breadwinner's income.

Do we get strong on policing? Speed up the courts? Build bigger prisons?

Do we lock anyone who is convicted up and throw away the key?

Or do we start to engage with people who have nothing to lose.

Do we to invest some time and energy into improving people's lives, hopefully reducing the likelihood of them committing a crime?

For the Farrell family this is an appalling tragedy, one made even more poignant by the fact that we are entering the Christmas period.

Surely no-one could fail to be touched by this killing.

The Government really can't continue to pretend that all is well.

I believe the promise it made to recruit 2,000 more gardai should be kept.

We all need to feel a lot more secure and confident in how Ireland is being policed.


FATAL CLUE: Mr Farrell's car is removed for forensic examination
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 30, 2003
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