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Horrific murder puts crime in the election spotlight

At the start of the Republic's general election campaign, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is placing his part in the Brexit negotiations at the heart of his party's pitch to remain in government.

He has a strong case to make although as he admits, the exit process is one that is still not over, indeed it is only at 'half-time'.

The Fine Gael leader can also point to the restoration of power-sharing at Stormont as further evidence of statecraft although Tanaiste Simon Coveney must take a fair degree of credit for getting the deal over the line and for his attention to the north's affairs over recent years.

The February 8 poll will, of course, be a crucial test of party leaders across the board, particularly Micheál Martin, who will be attempting to shake off Fianna Fáil's role in the disastrous economic crash which had such a devastating and long term impact on families and jobs.

Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald will also find her leadership under the spotlight and will be hoping for an improvement on the party's performance in last May's European and local government elections.

It is unlikely that Northern Ireland will feature heavily in this campaign which is expected to focus on the economy, health, the housing crisis and law and order.

There is no doubt the ongoing activities of criminal gangs remain a major cause for concern, the number of murders as the result of feuds especially alarming.

While these vicious disputes among ruthless thugs are invariably bloody and brutal, the killing and dismemberment of what is believed to be a teenage boy, has taken savage and cruel violence to an altogether more horrifying level.

Partial body remains were found in a burned out car in Drumcondra, near Croke Park in north Dublin, early yesterday, a gruesome discovery that came a day after body parts were recovered from a sports bag in Coolock.

One line of inquiry is that the remains are those of a 17-year-old from Drogheda and his death is linked to the activities of a drugs gang.

The fact that criminal gangs are engaging in such depravity, and may feel they can act with impunity, is truly frightening.

Gardaí will be under pressure to bring a halt to this shocking violence and ensure the community is protected from the dangerous and reckless gangsters.

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