Friday 18 August 2017

Family's emotional tribute to shot gangster as gardaí on high alert a year after Regency Hotel murder

A young man leaves flowers at the grave of David Byrne at Mount Jerome cemetery in Harold’s Cross Dublin.
A young man leaves flowers at the grave of David Byrne at Mount Jerome cemetery in Harold’s Cross Dublin.

Ian Begley

The sister of murdered gangster David Byrne has paid tribute to her brother, describing him as "the light and soul of the family", a year after the Regency Hotel shooting.

Byrne (34), a key member of the Kinahan cartel, was shot dead when gunmen opened fire during a boxing weigh-in taking place at the hotel on February 5, 2016.

The shooting was a suspected revenge attack for the murder of Gary Hutch, a nephew of Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch, who was killed in Spain in 2015.

Family members and friends of Byrne left flowers outside the Drumcondra hotel yesterday to mark the anniversary of his death. Byrne's older sister Joanne revealed the heartache the family had endured since his death.

"David, my beautiful baby brother," she wrote. "Our whole life has changed since you're gone.

"No words could even describe how much I miss you."

Gardaí and detectives keep watch near the grave.
Gardaí and detectives keep watch near the grave.

Another family member said Byrne remained in the family's thoughts on a daily basis.

"In loving memory of my beautiful baby bro (sic). You will never be gone and never forgotten. Life will never be the same again without you.

"Miss you and think about you every minute of every day. It will never get easier."

The shooting of gangster Byrne sparked a spate of gangland attacks which have so far claimed the lives of 11 people.

On Francis Street yesterday there was a significant garda presence around the Church of St Nicolas of Myra where a memorial Mass for Byrne was believed to be taking place.

Read more: 'You were just the best...' - Tributes left outside Regency on David Byrne anniversary

There were suspicions that a rival attack could take place outside the church, or at Mount Jerome Cemetery where Byrne is buried.

As a result, there was heightened security in the area and gardaí carried out security sweeps with sniffer dogs of the cemetery.

Yesterday, gardaí were on standby around the church while around 10 officers, including armed detectives, were dotted around the graveyard.

However, the day passed peacefully and without incident.

Armed detectives had been escorting James Byrne - the father of the Regency victim - in recent weeks.

Byrne's brother Liam is believed to be a major target for the Hutch gang.

Some of the feud's other victims include father-of-five Eddie Hutch, who was gunned down at his home on Poplar Row on the night of February 8 last year, just three days after the Regency attack.

Last week, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald warned the criminals involved in the Kinahan-Hutch feud "you will not win". Speaking one year on from the shooting at the Regency Hotel, she said: "It was an outrage against the local community, an outrage against every citizen.

"We dealt with a similar situation in Limerick. We dealt with it in Crumlin.

"It took time. It took resources.

"These people think they are above the law, but they are not above the law.

"That's what's become clear in recent weeks and I hope they get that message.

"That's the message from me as Justice Minister; it's the message from the Government and the message from An Garda Síochána."

Irish Independent

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