Praise for Declan Burke: “Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Mean Streets Of Drimnagh

“I didn’t want to write about Ireland until we got mean streets. We sure got ’em now.” – Ken Bruen

The Irish blogosphere was humming this week with reactions to the murder of two Polish men in Drimnagh, Dublin, in what appears to be a premeditated stabbing frenzy cheered on by a group of by-standers. Vigilante gangs and ‘chemical incarceration’ were among the suggestions about how to combat what has in the last number of years become an epidemic of casual and occasionally lethal violence on Irish streets, although the elves are a tad disappointed that no one has as yet mentioned the magical words ‘chain’ and ‘gang’.
  Given the week that was in it, though, the elves took the time to go back and re-read Brian McGilloway’s thoughtful piece on how crime writers react to the reality of crime when it impacts on their own environment. A little later, browsing Peter Rozovsky’s indispensable Detectives Beyond Borders, they stumbled across this post:
Crime in Ireland and elsewhere
A few weeks ago, my newspaper published the following small item under the headline “Murders reach record in Ireland”:

DUBLIN – Homicides in Ireland rose to a record last year, increasing 25 percent and prompting calls for tougher sentences for murder and gang crime. Murders and manslaughters rose to 84 from 67 in 2006, while drug offences rose 22 percent to 4,423, according to the Cork-based Central Statistics Office.
  “While the rise in headline crime has to be seen against the background of the unprecedented rise which is taking place in our population, the fact is that each crime is a crime too many,” Justice Minister Brian Lenihan said. Ireland’s population has risen almost 17 percent in the last decade, to 4.2 million.
  “The cheapening of human life evident in the crime figures demands an urgent response,” said Charlie Flanagan, justice spokesman for the opposition Fine Gael party. – AP

  Philadelphia [population 1,500,000], on the other hand, has averaged about 400 killings a year the past two years. - Peter Rozovsky
Maybe next week we’ll all gain a little perspective, although Crime Always Pays sincerely hopes we don’t. Meanwhile, our sympathies go out to the Szwajkos and Kalite families, and to Ireland’s Polish community.


Peter said...

No, don't go gaining perspective. It was chilling to think that I might already have done so.
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

Declan Burke said...

Peter - I'm not suggesting that you've gained some kind of morbid 'perspective' ... Had you done so, it wouldn't even have occurred to you to post that piece. I'm talking about us taking a more measured response to a bigger picture, and particularly the Irish blogosphere. Knee-jerk reactions of the 'flog 'em / hang 'em' variety solve nothing, and they do nothing to enhance the reputation of the blogosphere of being worthy of engaging with for the purpose of serious debate. Cheers, Dec