...and the killing still goes on

If one was asked to construct an essay on the reasons behind the rising murder rate in this country, you would probably feel like laying the blame at the feet of the gangland criminals who facilitate the peddling of death through the toxic poisoning of our communities. The high profile nature of their internecine battles is what fuels the coverage of crime.

But such an approach would be wrong. The main reason for the burgeoning rate of violent death in this country is the continued killing of women by men...and it is growing. The shocking numbers are camouflaged by the reason that there are thousands of serious assaults each year in which the victim almost dies.

Some 13 females were victims of homicides in Ireland in 2022. That is an increase of six femicides from 2021’s toll of seven – and a hike of a massive 85 per cent. Already almost a dozen women have died violent deaths this year – and 2023 is not even completed. If the worrying trend continues, there are likely to be more women victims in 2023.

Every week, we read of a woman having met a violent death in this country; or of a court case detailing a case in which a woman lost her life. Since 1996, which is not that long ago, almost 300 women have lost their lives to violence in Ireland. Since we were shocked by the violent death in Offaly last year, fifteen Irishwomen on the island have been murdered.

In resolved cases, 87% of women were killed by a man known to them. In over half of cases, current or former male intimate partners were responsible for the woman’s murder. More recent research conducted by Women’s Aid has revealed that one in five young women and one in eleven young men in Ireland have experienced intimate partner abuse. In lockdown, the rates of domestic violence were unprecedented and the violence continues.

I write about it this morning because weatherwise, this week resembles that week in October 2007. A bright blue-skied few days where the dying summer meets the handshake of autumn. The crunch of leaves underfoot, the golden sunsets adding a lustre to everything. It is a wonderful time of the year, and especially in Galway, and even more especially, if this was your first time to see this all.

The events of that week created a shock that has never left this city and county. The name Manuela resonating ever since.

I had the good fortune to meet Manuela Riedo’s parents when they came here in the aftermath of their daughter’s horrific death. They came too at a time when her name was placed on a foundation that raised funds to create awareness and support for those impacted by the sort of crime that ended her life. The splendid work done by Shane Lennon and others ensured that her legacy is a strong one.

I wrote at the time about how the Riedos must walk the corridor past her empty room and look in at her things, the few possessions you gather in early life as you begin to find yourself and your place in the world. They must have often sat down in there and saw the souvenirs of her childhood, as the pain of her loss absorbed over them as it must have done every day for the past sixteen years. This week, their hurt will be as great as it ever was.

My heart breaks for them, and for the parents and families of all murder victims who met death unnecessarily in the city and county. There were other heartless and senseless crimes that left young people dead or grievously injured around that time, and I think of them all today.

There has been a lot of death in our lives this past week. The horrors of Israel and Gaza beamed into our lives. Live and death, meeting in a fleeting moment and wiping out years of memories and years of possibilities. Lives denied and wasted.


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