Gangland blight ravages young of shattered suburb
Parish priest pleads for no retaliation as murdered drug dealer brothers laid to rest
A "REMEMBRANCE tree", commemorating the lives of more than 200 young people who died from drugs, stood on the altar of St Matthew's Church in Ballyfermot, Dublin, as the funeral Mass of murdered drug dealer brothers Kenneth and Paul Corbally took place.
Standing to the side of the altar, the tree contains the names of young men and women from the parish in Ballyfermot Upper who have died from drugs and was in place for the recent annual remembrance service.
In his homily, parish priest Fr Seamus Ryan pointed to the tree and said he hoped that the deaths of the Corballys, shot dead by professional assassins last Tuesday evening, could serve as a lesson to others not to be drawn into the "evil morass of the drugs trade".
The Corballys became the 34th and 35th victims of gangland violence in Dublin since the start of 2008 in the worst wave of gangland killing in the history of the State. The two who, gardai say, literally tortured those who they recruited to sell their drugs, were involved in a feud with one of the major drugs gangs in the city.
Many of those commemorated on the remembrance tree would have been addicted to drugs that were supplied by the Corballys.
At the funeral yesterday, Fr Ryan pointed the mourners to the tree and said: "We had this annual service here just over a week ago when family members came and placed the names of their loved ones who over the years have been lost to them through drug-related deaths on the remembrance tree, sadly running to hundreds here in our beloved Ballyfermot.
"We can only pray that the sad deaths of Paul and Kenneth might not have been entirely in vain if they serve as a sharp and necessary warning to any young people in danger of being sucked into the evil morass of the drug trade. And we who know of the genuine good qualities that lay in the hearts of Paul and Kenneth know that it would not be their wish that there be a reprisal of tit-for-tat killing, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.
"The newspapers have been reporting that the hired killers who committed that horrendous crime on Neilstown Road were paid €40,000 and a bonus promised if both brothers were shot. As if we had not heard enough already about despicable bonuses in other contexts and here being offered to bring it about that a father and mother lose two sons, wives lose husbands and children lose fathers.
"It would be some comfort to know that the crime committed in Ronanstown was so shocking as to make it completely unacceptable that people should be bent on settling scores by taking the lives of their enemies. How far we have travelled from the call of Jesus to love our enemies."
The chart of violent killings in Dublin since the start of 2008 (right) shows how the killings are clustered in working-class areas blighted by the drugs trade. The majority happen in the Garda's Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR) West, which stretches from Ballyfermot out past Lucan and north to Blanchardstown and Finglas, and DMR North where Coolock, Ballymun and Darndale are centres for the drugs trade. Despite decades of promises to tackle the drugs trade it is still flourishing.
Gardai said last week that the assassination of Paul Corbally, 35, and Kenneth, 32, was the most clinical strike seen in 20 years of gangland murder in the city.
The two were leaders of a drug gang that had become embroiled in a feud with a gang that is major supplier of heroin and cocaine in the city, whose head is a career criminal aged in his 50s who has been living outside the State since the mid-Nineties. The Corballys attempted to murder the gang leader's number-one lieutenant in Dublin five weeks ago but he escaped without injury. Gardai expected retaliation for that but even experienced murder detectives were surprised at the professional nature of the assassination on Neilstown Road, Clondalkin on Monday.
The killers rammed the Corbally's Lexus car then riddled it were automatic fire. According to one witness, the gunmen then calmly walked to either side of the front of the car and fired one more shot into the heads of the brothers.
A 14-year-old boy, who was a passenger in the car, was also shot and injured.
It is all the more surprising to gardai because the man they believe to be the most experienced and professional assassin in the State is currently in prison abroad facing serious charges. He has now been attributed with up to 11 murders, mainly carried out on behalf of the gang leader Eamon Dunne, who was himself murdered on April 23 last.
Gardai began referring to this man as "the Phantom" because of his ability to avoid detection. He had not been arrested for over three years. Gardai believe he was living under an assumed name in Spain and travelled to Ireland on a false passport, returning quickly after carrying out his work. This man worked for other gangs in the city and if he had been free he would immediately have been a top suspect.
By the end of last week gardai were confident of who ordered the assassinations but had no idea who carried it out. The gang responsible for the murders have close links with foreign mafias and it is possible they brought in some one from abroad. Another theory is that an assassin from Belfast with former links to splinter republican groups is now working in Dublin.