Friday, November 15, 2019

By Liz Dunphy

Ana Kriegel’s teen killers “are not evil”, the former governor of Mountjoy prison said as he warned that the case was a “wake-up call” to Government to investigate the growing trend of violent juvenile crime.

John Lonergan said that the abhorrent behaviour of the two youths, Boy A and Boy B, who were 13 when the schoolgirl was murdered, does not equate to who they are as people.

“Their behaviour was evil. But you must separate the person from the behaviour,” Mr Lonergan said.

I have met many people who committed evil crimes but you could always find some humanity and goodness in them.

“Boy A is beginning to talk. No one else knows what was in his head, what his influences and objectives were and how he got the ambition to kill and horrendously violate that little girl as he did.

“But you can’t say that that little boy for the rest of his life will be evil.

“With the right help and support and with his own co-operation, he will understand what he did and what the consequences of that are.”

John Lonergan

Mr Lonergan said that the case should be a ‘wake-up call” for Government to immediately commence a long term study to understand the impact that exposure to screens and violent pornography is having on our youth.

“I’m convinced that young people exposed to violence and pornography is doing serious damage,” he said.

“They’re at a very impressionable age and may not be able to separate fact from fiction. The court showed that Boy A had been looking up very strange and violent behaviour online.

This should be a wake-up call. We need a group of experts to monitor the consequences of exposure to screens and what people view on them in a life-long project which must go on for decades.

“The Government needs to resource this now. It’s like the environment. We paid no attention to it for 40 years. Screens and technology in the modern era have the potential to do as much damage to human beings as environmental destruction.”

He said that youths increasingly believe that carrying a knife is “popular and sexy”.

Yet, he said that the Government is not putting enough resources into “nipping this in the bud”.

“The Government must lead on this,” he said. “It’s no good just saying that parents and teachers should do more.”

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