Back to the future: Republican gangs in bloody battle
Murders, violence and drugs lead to dissident split that is reminiscent of last days of INLA
Dissident republican crime gangs in Dublin have split and are feuding in ways similar to the bloody factionalising of the remnants of the terror group the Irish National Liberation Amy (INLA) in the late Eighties and Nineties.
Since former Real IRA man Liam Kenny, 53, was shot dead at his home in Chapelizod, Dublin, in June a series of serious incidents including several attempted murders have taken place. Kenny, a former Provisional IRA member had been a member of the Real IRA in Dublin but fell out with other members after it split acrimoniously into two factions in the city.
Last Wednesday, an associate of Kenny's, Frank Nolan, 49, was shot and seriously injured when a teenager on a bicycle pulled up beside him at Oranmore Road in Ballyfermot and shot him at close range. There had been a pipe bomb attack on Nolan's home in July.
Nolan, who served a term of imprisonment for reckless endangerment in an incident in which a man was shot in the thigh in a Ballyfermot pub in 2000, is recovering in hospital.
The incident has created more tension and gardai expect there were will be more attacks.
The reasons for the attack were not clear but gardai say there had been a public meeting of republicans last weekend and threats had apparently been exchanged afterwards.
It is believed that after his row with his former dissident republican associates, Liam Kenny left the Real IRA faction and moved to the group styling itself as the Continuity IRA. This group has now split in two as well, with one group led by a Limerick man in his late fifties but with support in Dublin and which is opposed to another faction also still styling itself with the same name based in Dublin.
In traditional republican style, the various groups send coded claims to newspapers making allegations and threats against each other, followed by counter-claims that the initial statements were from "gangsters" or "drug dealers" and not republicans. This is exactly what went on when the INLA went into its finally destructive round of feuding in the late Eighties.
All the Dublin dissident groups are aligned in one way or another with the city's drug gangs and gardai are concerned that they are adding an extra dimension to the already violent state of organised crime in the city.
The investigation into Kenny's murder has become highly complicated with detectives trying to work out the reasons behind the killing as Kenny was at odds with not only his former dissident associates but also with drug dealers in the west of the city.
There was initially suspicion last week that there might be a dissident link to the murder of Thomas McDonagh, 49, a traveller shot dead at his caravan in Ballymun last Saturday night. Gardai have known for some time of tensions between Traveller and settled gangs in north Dublin and believe that Travellers have been selling pipe bombs to both ordinary criminal and dissident republican gangs.
However, Mr McDonagh was not involved in these activities and is believed to have been murdered by a Finglas-based gang of settled criminals involved in the drugs trade and in armed robberies including tiger kidnappings. It is believed he had been involved in drug dealing and had a heroin problem and was shot because of an unpaid debt of €15,000.
One of the main current concerns among gardai in Dublin is the re-emergence of the gangland figure Freddie Thompson following a fire-bomb attack on his mother's house in the Coombe area.
Gardai in the Dublin South Central Division have been on high alert since the attack on the home of Lisa Thompson, who has no involvement in criminal activity, but is believed to have been targeted by her son's rivals.
Freddie Thompson had spent most of the previous 15 months in England, returning only for brief visits to Dublin and the gang violence in the south city had reduced.
It is believed he was concerned that he would be arrested and extradited to Spain after Spanish police said they had issued a warrant for his arrest and extradition at the time of a series of high- profile raids in May last year on the mainly Irish gang led by Dubliner Christy Kinahan, who has been living in Estepona, Spain. However, the warrant has not been sent to gardai even though they have informed the Spanish authorities of his presence here.
Thompson had been staying in Estepona up until shortly before the launching of Europe-wide raids aimed at the organisation, which Spanish, British and Europol police said was headed by Kinahan. There were 78 raids including 45 here, 21 in Spain and 12 in Britain. Some 34 people were arrested and €1m in cash seized.
Spanish police said their criminal assets agency was investigating properties worth millions including a holiday resort in Brazil.
Thompson was questioned in February 2007 when his associate, Paddy Doyle, 27, from Dublin was shot dead in Estepona but Thompson was not at the scene and it is thought the murder was carried out by Turkish mafia.