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Sixty Dead In Worst Year for Killings Since the Civil War

Waterford is now the country's murder capital

Sunday Tribune, 1st January 2006, by John Burke and Eoghan Rice

THE past 12 months have been the bloodiest in the peacetime history of the State, with Waterford emerging as the new murder capital of Ireland.

A total of 60 people were killed violently in Ireland during 2005, the highest number since the ending of the Civil War. Official garda statistics on violent deaths nationwide last year, which have been obtained by the Sunday Tribune, show major increases in the number of men killed violently.

While almost half of the killings took place in Dublin, the four people violently killed in Waterford gives the southeast county the highest ratio of killings per head of population. One in every 25,000 people were killed in Waterford, compared to one in every 43,000 in Dublin.

Kerry, which had the highest ratio of killings in 2004, had the second highest ratio of killings in 2005, highlighting a growing problem of violent crime in the county. The four people killed in Kerry amounted to one in every 33,000 of the county's population.

The largest increase in killings in Ireland was related to organised crime, with a twofold increase in the number of people killed in gangland feuds over the past 12 months. Nineteen people, all of whom were men, were killed as a result of disputes between criminal gangs.

The proliferation of firearms among criminal gangs is now seen by gardai as a major problem in curbing the growing homicide rate. Fuelled by an increase in the drugs trade and in the accessability of highperformance handguns in particular, criminal gangs . . .especially in Dublin . . . have become increasingly lethal.

However, 41 of the 60 killings in 2005 had no connection to organised crime, highlighting a growing problem of excessive violence in Ireland. Many of the young men who were killed over the past 12 months died from injuries sustained during late-night alcohol-fuelled fights.

Almost half of all male victims were either beaten or stabbed to death. Guns accounted for over 40% of all killings of males in 2005, with 20 men shot to death. Of those, only one . . . the killing of Carlow farmer James Healy, who was fatally shot over a land dispute . . . was not gang-related.

Eight women were killed in 2005, a slight decrease from 2004. Of the eight, three were beaten to death, with a further three dying as a result of stab wounds. Charges have been brought in six of these cases. It is generally easier to prosecute after a woman's death because in most cases the alleged assailant was known to the victim.

There was also a large increase in the number of nonnationals killed, increasing from six in 2004 to 11 in 2005.

Four of those killed in 2005 were Lithuanian, with others hailing from Poland, China, Somalia, Georgia, Rwanda, Moldova and England.

The number of people killed violently in the State last year exceeds the previous high set in 2002, when 59 people were the victims of violent deaths.