Paul Williams: Gang raids were political stunt to put on a show for the gullible Irish public
International crime boss Christy Kinahan has no interest in newspapers or any media - but if he was reading this morning’s headlines about the super raids against his empire mounted by police in Spain and Dublin, he would probably be having a good laugh.
Christy Kinahan was nicknamed the Dapper Don by me almost 20 years ago.
He is an extremely clever and strategic criminal/businessman.
For over 20 years, he has been building an international network that reads like a who’s who of some of the most powerful and dangerous criminal organisations in the world.
They include criminal outfits from Colombia, Mexico, the North American mafia, the Russian mafia, the Israeli mafia and the Northern Italian mafia.
He is the central dominating and controlling figure in Irish organised crime - and has been for almost 16 years.
Kinahan speaks several languages, he has a degree in environmental science and sociology and speaks with a very cultured neutral European accent. His empire is worth an estimated €700m to €1bn.
It was Christy who was one of the first gangland entrepreneurs to discover Chinese chemists who could replicate practically every illegal drug on the market.
He also enjoys business relationships with major legitimate companies across Africa, Eastern Europe, Europe and South America.
And the barbaric savages who are killing in his name are, in Christy’s eyes, not only beneath him but also dispensable pawns in his big game.
So what is all the point of this?
The point is that Christy factored in so-called offensives by international law enforcement agencies many years ago. While he has served time behind bars in Spain, he knows that he is so far removed from the real action that he won’t be spending 15 years as a resident of a spartan cell anywhere on mainland Europe or Ireland.
The current gang war -waged by the Kinahan cartel against Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch - is being orchestrated by his son Daniel and Daniel’s close cohort of associates.
Daniel is very much a chip off the old block but , if I were a life insurance broker, I would politely turn down his business. Because thugs like Daniel have a good chance of meeting a sticky end.
The raids in Spain and Dublin, as well as the very high-profile cooperation between the gardai and La Guardia Civil is welcome.
But, the truth is, it is far too late.
This is how Christy Kinahan will view yesterday's events: A media friendly publicity stunt by the Irish authorities as they try desperately to regain ground that they have lost - ground that they have conceded through the chronic lack of resources.
The truth is that the gardaí took their eye off the ball with regard to this pernicious criminal conspiracy.
For example, there was no intelligence gathered and no intensive surveillance deployed against the hardcore members of the Kinahan gang in Crumlin and South Dublin or in the North Inner City since the recession kicked in.
One of the reasons why I can take this view is that yesterday had the feel of deja-vu about it.
In 2010 the international police offensive against the Kinahan cartel made headlines all over the world when officers in Ireland, the UK, Belgium, Spain and Brazil swooped on what the Spanish media called ‘The Irish Mafia’.
Operation Shovel had promised so much - but it failed to deliver anything. Nobody was put out of business, nobody was put in prison and their fortunes were left intact. And from his poolside on the Costa del Crime, Christy Kinahan continued to smile to himself.
It’s heartening to see these animals finally being taken on. It is heartening that after years of neglect and denial, this government has finally given gardai some money to try and play catch-up with the mob.
There is another dimension for this. For the last three years, the Minister for Justice and the Garda Commissioner insisted that there was no problem with organised crime and rural crime - but the criminals proved them wrong time and again.
It is interesting that our colleagues in the media were there to take pictures of yesterday's raids in Dublin.
This was just a political stunt by the Commissioner to assuage her political masters by putting on a show for the gullible Irish public.
On the other hand, several of my colleagues have found themselves under investigation for covering criminal raids which hadn’t been sanctioned for coverage by the Commissioner or her Minister.
In criminology, there is a superb book titled the ‘Carnival of Crime’. It would have described yesterday's events as a “spectacle”, or an event designed to entertain and titillate.
When all the dust has settled from this latest round of raids there is one prediction that I can make here and it is with a heavy heart - I believe Christy Kinahan will be sitting by the pool this time next year, still smiling.