Not a great week for children

Too many examples this week, unfortunately, of what children are subjected to in twenty first century Ireland.

On Tuesday night, an innocent schoolboy was lucky to escape with his life in a drive-by shooting in the Crumlin area of south Dublin.

Scene where young Stephen Hynes was shot

Just 16, Stephen Hynes had his back to the car. The intended target of the shooting was a 21-year-old man, who is known to gardai. Stephen himself was completely innocent and was just chatting to the intended target, who’s his cousin, and another youth, aged 17.

As a garda told me a shotgun is not an assassin’s weapon and can injure or kill anyone in the general area of the blasts. Hynes was hit by cartridge pellets to his back and head, was seriously injured, but will survive. Local youth workers and neighbours praised the boy. The minister for justice said he had no involvement in crime and was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

An awful aspect of this story was what local leading community workers told me: that the shooting of an innocent boy no longer shocks and that the entire community is being intimidated into silence by criminal gangs, who typically shoot for petty drug debts or (as in this case) petty personal grudges.

On Wednesday, it emerged that a priest allowed a woman give a graphic account of her abortion at – wait for it – a children’s mass. She went on to state how she believed a special needs child of her’s was a punishment from God. This caused obvious outrage and distress, not least to parents of special needs kids attending. In my opinion, it’s another example of just how rotten the Catholic Church is. This is not meant as a criticism of Catholics, but of the institution.

Linda Duffy, husband Anthony and Mark, aged 10

On Thursday, news broke that the parents of a severely brain damaged child had been hit with a half a million euro legal bill after they lost an alleged negligence case against the National Maternity Hospital regarding the treatment of their son at birth. The hospital – to their shame – sought all costs from the Duffy family after the judge ruled in the hospital’s favour.

On Friday, we reported on a court case in Mayo during the week in which it emerged that it was taking the gardai three years to prosecute some cases of child pornography. The blame was being placed on reduced resources and increased workload at the Garda Computer Crime Investigations Unit. The unit has lost staff in recent years, but has also faced a huge increase in the amount of cases coming before it – including all the mammoth investigations into banks.

If that wasn’t enough, a seemingly organised fight between two schoolgirls aged 12-13, watched on by 50 other children, was uploaded, went viral and sparked a Garda investigation

Sorry for such a downbeat post on a Friday, it’s just what struck me this week. As I might have mentioned before, childhood and children are at the heart of my novel – if I ever get a chance to write any of it!


About Cormac O'Keeffe

I've written a novel. And, it's going to be published. This April. Mad, or what? It's entitled 'Black Water' and is a crime novel set in Dublin's gangland, along the evocative Grand Canal. This blog is about that bumpy journey, which is about to get really exciting. You'll also find some photography on this blog, particularly snaps that relate to my novel, much of it centred along the canal. There are also some reviews, both fiction and non-fiction, many of them published in the Irish Examiner, a daily national newspaper in Ireland. I work as security correspondent there and have specialist interests in crime, drugs, policing, the justice system, communities and human rights. Both my personal life and my professional life have fed into my novel, or, rather, have been poured into it. My novel was granted a literature bursary by the Irish Arts Council in September 2014 and my journalistic work has won multiple awards from the Law Society of Ireland over many years, most recently in 2015.
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2 Responses to Not a great week for children

  1. SJ O'Hart says:

    Powerful post. I’m heartbroken for the family of that 10-year old boy left disabled, and angry at a set of laws that would allow his parents to be ruined for trying to help him. I’m also thankful that 16-year-old chap escaped with his life. I hope we’ll manage, one day, to have an Ireland where children are truly cherished and loved – all of them, not just the lucky ones.

  2. CJ O'Keeffe says:

    Thanks. Congrats on finishing your first draft by the way.

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