The Mayor of Limerick, Kevin Kiely, has asked the government to look in to holding a referendum on the reintroduction of the death penalty in Ireland.

Last year murders in Ireland increased by six percent to 53 murders and two manslaughters. He feels that the reinstatement of capital punishment might help to curb the increasing numbers of murders in the State.

On Monday evening the body of a drug addict, Lee Slattery, was found in a shallow grave. He was shot three times and dumped in the grave.

It is believed that criminals form the north side of Limerick carried out the murder over an unpaid drug debt. The police are investigating.

“Once it has been established beyond reasonable doubt that these people are responsible and have been convicted for carrying out a murderer, the death penalty should be imposed upon them,” said Kiely.

He insisted that Prime Minister Brian Cowen must consider this option if he plans on preventing future murders including those murders not associated with gangland crime. He said that it should apply to any premeditated murder.

“Until such a time that we bring in draconian laws to tackle people who have been involved in murders, the whole situation is going to escalate…Nobody likes to see anybody lose their life, but there has to be a deterrent there. We have to look at some of the US states which have the death penalty. In these states, the level of murder has reduced considerable,” he said.

Last year, High Court former President, Mr Justice Richard Johnson also raised the question as to whether the death penalty should be reintroduced.

The abolition of capital punishment is a condition of EU membership. This exists in a protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights. Ireland is a signatory.

Michael Manning (25) was the last person to be executed in the State. Coincidently it was in Limerick. He was hung in 1954 having murdered, Catherine Cooper, a nurse from Clare.

The death penalty was abolished in Ireland in 1990.