Seven Days

 

A glance at the week that was

It happened this week . . . a shooting in Tallaght

Who was the 16-year-old girl shot dead this week?Melanie McCarthy. Her family is originally from Newcastle West in Co Limerick. They moved to Dublin when she was about 10 years old. Of late she was living with her 20-year-old boyfriend, Christopher Moran, at his parents’ house, on Drumcairn Avenue in Tallaght. Family members and friends this week described her as a gentle and popular teenager who was considering marrying in the months ahead.

Was she involved in crime?No. She was an innocent victim of gangland violence. The Garda believes some of the men in their 20s she had been associating with in Tallaght were involved in the drugs trade. These men had recently begun feuding with other drug dealers from the area. Some of the men, like Melanie, were settled Travellers and the Garda believes this has complicated the picture, adding a family dimension to the feuding.

What exactly happened?Melanie’s family say she was collected from the Luas stop in Tallaght on Tuesday night by three male friends in a car. As they were all driving back to the house where she was living, one of the men got a call from people he knew who live at Brookview Way in Tallaght. They told him their house had just been attacked by men throwing bricks and they wanted him and his friends to come over because they felt unsafe. When they reached the house at 10.30pm they parked their car, a Nissan Almera, outside. As Melanie was sitting in the back seat passenger side with two other men in the car, a black Hyundai Santa Fe SUV, which had been parked in a cul de sac nearby, pulled up alongside the Almera. One of the men in the Santa Fe pulled out a shotgun and from inside that car tried to take aim at one of Melanie’s friends in the Almera. But he hit Melanie in the head instead. The men she was with rushed her to Tallaght hospital, but though medical staff tried for a couple of hours to save her, her injuries were too severe. She was pronounced dead at the hospital at 1am. She is believed to be the youngest person shot dead in a gang dispute.

Have the killers been caught?No, but the investigation looks to be progressing well. The SUV used by the killers was abandoned at Bianconi Avenue, Citywest. But instead of burning out the car to destroy any forensic evidence, the killers appeared to panic. They left the car intact and discarded their balaclavas, scarves and gloves, as well as the murder weapon, in undergrowth close to the car. All of the items, and two spent shotgun cartridges found in the vehicle, are being forensically examined. And the Garda believes the faces of the men were captured on CCTV.

What will happen next?The Garda is worried that one of the factions in the feud in which Melanie was tragically caught up is linked to the McCarthy Dundon gang from Limerick. It fears that this gang may somehow now get more involved in the violence in Tallaght. Travellers’ organisations, as well as Minister for Justice Alan Shatter and Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan, have called for calm. Garda patrols and checkpoints have been increased in Tallaght, and arrests are expected shortly. - CONOR LALLY

Next week you need to know about . . . Darwin Day

It’s that time of year when loved-up couples across the western hemisphere stock up on cards, roses and chocolates to go through the romantic motions on St Valentine’s Day. Tomorrow, though, many of the world’s scientists and humanists will commemorate the life and work of Charles Darwin with Darwin Day.

It is the brainchild of a molecular biologist, Dr Robert Stephens, who came up with the plan for a day of celebration back in 1993. Initially, the idea grew out of a desire to highlight humanism rather than science, but Darwin’s importance in both spheres gave the proposal wider scope. The first events took place in Stanford University in California in April 1995, and over the years the day eventually moved to February 12th, Darwin’s birthday. The commemoration gathered momentum with the range of events commemorating Darwin’s 200th birthday and the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Speciesin 2009.

Events are being held across the world, from Tennessee to Singapore and from Sao Paolo to London, with lectures, humanist events and exhibitions explaining Darwin’s groundbreaking work on evolution.

In Dublin, the Natural History Museum is hosting two events to mark the occasion: Evolution, Beetles, Darwin and Dublin”today at 2pm, and Monkey Business tomorrow from 3pm.

Cork humanists are celebrating at the Quay Co-op from noon tomorrow. The Humanist Association of Ireland’s annual Darwin Day lecture will be held on February 24th in Trinity College Dublin. See humanism.ie. - DAVID O'DWYER

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Rankings calculated from last Saturday until yesterday morning

The numbers

36

The number of hairline cracks Qantas found in the wings of one of its Airbus A380s, which it grounded as a result.

27

Minutes between Harry Redknapp (right) being acquitted of tax evasion and bookies issuing a press release saying he was favourite to become the next England manager.

3

The number of Republican primary caucuses Rick Santorum won on Tuesday, threatening Mitt Romney’s campaign.

€50,000

The amount in excess of the new salary cap that the acting chief executive of VHI is paid.

€20

The fall in the average credit card debt per person since the height of the boom.

0

Amount of ice lost from Himalayan peaks (above) over the past decade, surprising climate scientists

We know know

Smartphone apps have contributed about 466,000 jobs in the US in the past five years, according to a large study on the app economy.

The last surviving veteran of the first World War, Florence Green, has died in Norfolk, two weeks before her 111th birthday. She joined the Women’s Royal Air Force in 1918, at the age of 17.

With his 1904 study of trial brews, Guinness brewmaster WS Gossett “invented or inspired half of modern statistics”, according to the US economist Stephen Ziliak.

The half-time ad that made Republicans see red

It’s been a long time since an ad struck as many nerves as the Chrysler half-time Super Bowl ad, which featured Clint Eastwood in quasi- Dirty Harrymode, telling the audience that “it’s half-time in America”. The two-minute clip depicted Motor City getting back on its feet, and suggested it serve as a model for the US as a whole. But what seemed like an inspirational message for a country struggling to get out of recession was instantly seized on as propaganda. The Republican mastermind Karl Rove angrily suggested it was in effect the first ad of the Barack Obama re-election campaign. It’s going to be a long election season.