Recent spate of knife crime ‘a disastrous blind alley’, says archbishop

Dr Diarmuid Martin said he has been shocked and saddened by recent stabbing incidents involving young people

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said the lives of young perpetrators and their families are also ruined by knife crime. File photograph: Bryan O Brien/The Irish Times

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said the lives of young perpetrators and their families are also ruined by knife crime. File photograph: Bryan O Brien/The Irish Times

 

The recent spate of knife crime and stabbings among young people “is truly a disastrous blind alley,” the Archbishop of Dublin has said.

In his homily at the Pro-Cathedral on Sunday, Diarmuid Martin said that he has been “shocked and saddened” by recent stabbing incidents involving young people.

On Friday, the funeral took place of Leaving Certificate student Azzam Raguragui, who died after being stabbed in a Dublin park a week earlier.

The 18-year-old was on his way to Friday prayers at Clonskeagh mosque with a number of other Muslim teenagers when they came upon another group of teenagers at Finsbury Park, Dundrum, at 8.10pm.

An effort was made by the other group to steal Mr Raguragui’s bike. When he resisted, one of the teenagers in the other group stabbed Mr Raguragui, who slipped as he tried to flee before being fatally wounded.

The suspected killer, who is understood to have told gardaí he acted in self-defence, then fled the area on foot with the others in his group.

Ten minutes later, a member of the same group stabbed a 15-year-old boy on Nutgrove Avenue in Churchtown, 2km away. While his injuries were not regarded as life-threatening, the victim suffered a considerable injury resulting in significant blood loss.

Last week a man was also rushed to hospital after being reportedly stabbed in the face in Leixlip, Co Kildare.

Meanwhile, in Cork, two men in their 20s and 30s received stab and slash wounds in two separate attacks in the city, which gardaí believe are connected.

“Once again, I am shocked and saddened to see further incidents of senseless stabbings and knife crimes - especially among young people - in our city and in our country and in other countries. They take away an innocent life, they shatter a future full of hope, and they destroy the tranquillity of families,” Archbishop Martin told the congregation.

“The lives of young perpetrators and their families are also ruined. Knife violence among young people is truly a disastrous blind alley,” he said.

The number of knives being seized across the country has risen by 60 per cent in three years, up from 1,197 in 2016 to 1,936 last year. The increase was largely driven by seizures in the six garda divisions covering Dublin city and county. The largest number of knife seizures took place in the South Central division of the Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR), which covers the south inner city. There were 194 seizures in 2018, up from 129 in 2016. There were over 100 seizures in the Northern Division, the North Central Division and the Western Division as well.

The only other Garda division which recorded more than 100 seizures was in Cork city, where 101 knives were confiscated last year.

“Christians are called to foster a culture of life and of love. We are called to be a presence in our society of such a culture, a culture of life from conception to death. No life is second-class,” the Archbishop said.