Sustained spike in violent assaults spurs Garda action
Assaults causing harm now consistently at levels reached only briefly during Celtic Tiger
The scene of the fatal assault on Vincent Parsons in Killinarden in August. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
Two days after Vincent Parsons died from injuries suffered in a savage beating on a roadside in west Dublin, it was business as usual in the places he was last seen alive.
Middle-aged men shuttled in and out of the Killinarden Public House. The Mace shop just up the road in the Killinarden estate was doing a busy trade.
The only sign a man had been fatally beaten just outside the shop, after an altercation in the pub up the road, was the crucifix and cards from Parsons’ loved ones.
They had been left on the grass verge where the welder from Clondalkin was found unconscious and close to death. He died of his injuries in hospital 48 hours later, on Monday, August 26th.
A murder investigation continues into the killing of the 34-year-old father of two.
Fr Pat Coughlan told the congregation at the funeral Mass in the Church of the Transfiguration in Bawnogue, Dublin, that Vincent Parsons died as a result of a “senseless act of savagery” and his family had been left in “free fall” as a result.
Serious assaults take place across Ireland every day but, as they rarely prove fatal, the public does not get to hear about them.
Non-fatal assaults are seldom covered in the media or featured in Garda public appeals or even press releases. They are invisible crimes, except to the victims and their loved ones.
As a result, the scale of the growing assault culture across the Republic has largely gone unnoticed. However, the number of assaults causing harm, and common assaults, which are less serious, in public places has increased very significantly lately.
Under pressure from the Policing Authority over the recent worrying increases in these violent street crimes, the Garda is about to launch a new policing strategy to target hot spots where spikes in assaults are most marked.
Drugs and alcohol
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris believes crimes such as assaults tend to increase in line with disposable incomes as people have more money to buy alcohol and recreational drugs.
Assaults causing harm are now consistently at levels reached only briefly during the height of the Celtic Tiger in 2007, when the night-time economy was booming.
In each of the past four quarters, the number of assaults causing harm exceeded 1,000 nationally. It is the first time such a trend has emerged since the CSO began compiling the crime data almost 17 years ago.
In the second quarter of this year, some 3,447 common assaults were recorded by the Garda, the highest level since the CSO began publishing crime data in 2003.
Common assaults were up 4 per cent in the 12 months to the end of June off a record high level in the previous 12 months.
Assaults causing harm were up 9 per cent in the 12 months to the end of June.
It is against this background that the Garda has decided to act.