‘The real Limerick is represented by Shane Geoghegan, not by the people who killed him.” With these well-chosen and heartfelt words Eoghan Prendergast, the president of Shane’s rugby club Garryowen, spoke for the people of Limerick.
Over three years on from the horrific and brutal slaying of Shane Geoghegan, we are beginning to see justice done.
I stress the word: beginning. While the conviction of the man who pulled the trigger has been understandably welcomed, the reality is that all of ‘the people who killed’ Shane have yet to be brought to justice.
Writing here back in April 2009 in the aftermath of the equally vicious killing of young Roy Collins I said: “[the people of Limerick] … want to see the people responsible for the killings of Roy and Shane put away for the rest of their natural lives. By ‘responsible’ they do not just mean those who carried out the crimes. They want those who mindlessly order these killings from a distance to be put away permanently.”
If anything, that feeling is much stronger now than it was back in 2008 and 2009. There can be no real and lasting justice for the families of Shane and his girlfriend Jenna and the decent people of Limerick until all those who played a part in ordering and carrying out these evil deeds are behind bars.
Last Wednesday’s conviction was the result of a lengthy, thorough and painstaking garda investigation. That it has taken over three years to bring the case to this point is regrettable, although it should be remembered that almost one year of that delay is due to the fact that this was a retrial.
The first trial ended in March last year with the jury being discharged after it failed to reach a unanimous verdict after four days of deliberations. Nonetheless it does mark a significant blow to those behind the vile criminality that operates in Limerick.
We are starting to see some indications that past alliances and associations between criminal gangs and factions are beginning to fray, including some with dissident-republican terror groups.
Those who once thought they could act remotely and with impunity behind a wall of henchmen and nefarious associates are now seeing that some who they once trusted as friends and partners may now be ready to tell what they know.
As Garda Chief Superintendent John Scanlon made clear after the announcement of the verdict on Wednesday, this conviction does not bring the case to an end. This is an ongoing investigation.
It is absolutely vital, therefore, that the gardai in Limerick continue to have all the resources and support they need to ensure that those behind the scenes are brought before the courts to face the consequences of their actions.
Those on the investigating team in Limerick are among the best on this island. They have an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the people they are pursuing.
They have the determination, drive and discipline to see this investigation through to the very end, which means putting the criminal gangland hierarchy behind bars for a very long time. When they have achieved that goal, then we will know that there has been justice for Shane, Jenna and all the people of Limerick.