Gangland gunmen 'highly trained in weapons' and outnumber ERU
The Kinahan mob is now seeking to completely annihilate its Hutch rivals in Dublin takeover, writes Jim Cusack
The gunman who mistakenly murdered innocent Dublin man Martin O'Rourke is believed to be one of a cadre of young men trained in tactical firearms use, with such training much the same as that given to members of the Garda's armed response units.
The gang's training is provided perfectly legally in E eastern European countries by ex-military and police. The gang members are even armed with the same type of guns as the gardai. The armed wing of the 'Kinahan cartel' is also around the same size as the Garda's Emergency Response Unit, usually about 30 or 40-strong.
O'Rourke, a drug user, may not have been the target but the strike into the heart of Hutch territory in broad daylight is a very significant act.
Sheriff Street and its surrounding streets beside the IFSC and Connolly train station is the Hutch family heartland. Gerry Hutch was born into a large family in one of the houses just across Amiens Street on Buckingham Street.
The rival Kinahan gang hitman travelled across the city into the small enclave of Sheriff and Oriel Streets, and acting on fairly precise realtime information shot a man fitting the description of his intended target - who is believed to have been nearby at the time. As the young gunman approached the scene, he had the coolheadness to travel on his own by bicycle.
The timing of the murder, at lunch time, is also significant, as it is when most of the drug dealing is taking place in and around Sheriff Street and Oriel Street. There were no gardai immediately present, as is the case most days, local people say.
Locals have, for decades, been asking for greater Garda action to clear out the drug dealing taking place directly in front of school children and young families. Last Halloween, the young street dealers held an all-night party on Oriel Street with cars being burnt and stolen motorcycles raced through the neighbourhood. Local people say they called gardai repeatedly but nothing was done. One young man suffered catastrophic head injuries when the stolen motorcycle he was riding crashed into a garda car.
The people of the North Docks electoral ward accept the street dealing and the gunplay and intimidation that goes on with organised drug crime as part of everyday life. But the area has been unusually tense since the outbreak of the current Hutch-Kinahan feuding in the aftermath of the killing of Kinahan gang figure David Byrne at the Regency Hotel on February 5. The revenge killing of Gerry Hutch's brother, Eddie (59), only a few hundred yards along Amiens Street from Sheriff Street three days after the Regency attack, upped the sense of unease.
People who would normally talk to journalists about the problems besetting the area have been reticent to speak even privately in recent weeks. One who did explained that the main fear of local people who are not tied by blood or other close links to the Hutch gang is that they might be suspected of being "rats" - passing information to any potentially hostile source, even journalists.
The gardai are hamstrung from speaking out by the rigid ban on any communication with journalists. Those who speak privately say that the whole law and order system including their own force, public authority and the State's drugs policy management systems, is a complete shambles.
Gardai in the local Store Street District have been trying for years to rectify some of the very serious problems in regard to the administration of law and order. Ordinary gardai from Store Street introduced the system of allocating case management of young offenders to a single garda. Previously, two dozen different gardai could each be handling one or two offences committed by one particularly active young criminal.
Store Street has possibly the best history of dealing with young offenders and has EU quality awards for its efforts at reintroducing the old-fashioned style of having particular gardai detailed as much as possible to a given number of streets. Property prices have been rising, with some signs of gentrification beginning to be seen. The potentially criminal ownership of a good deal of property in the North Dock, however, means that there are still problems with development and many properties lie vacant and derelict.
One of the concerns for a new government would be that Thursday's daylight murder took place within earshot of the Irish offices of some of the world's leading finance organisations in the adjoining Irish Financial Services Centre (IFSC).
The rising, but unaddressed, concern is that with the country currently effectively without a government, Dublin is earning a reputation as a high-crime city.
The striking images taken by INM photographers at the Regency Hotel were carried around the world.
A recent EU survey indicated that Dublin has a very high homicide rate caused by gunshos but it is difficult to interpret because of the problems related to having no common means of recording crime. The Garda does not issue any figures on gang-related homicide, like other forces, possibly because the conviction rate in 'professional' murders is now universally low among police forces.
But records of gang-related murders kept by INM journalists indicate that there have been around 210 gun murders carried out by gangs in Dublin since 1996. The worst year was 2009, when there were 25 fatal shootings related to Dublin gangs - two taking place in Spain and one in Holland.
Last year, there were five fatal shootings by gangs in the city and three others outside the city in the Leinster area that involved gangs supplied with drugs by Dublin gangs. Charges have not been brought in any of the killings last year.
The two big gangs involved in the current feud are probably responsible for 50pc of the gun murders in the city over the past two decades. The Hutch gang is responsible for murders dating from 1987.
The Kinahan gang came much later to the scene but has made up huge ground in terms of both income and the number of bodies.
A rough estimate suggests that it has been responsible for one in three of the gun homicides in the past decade. Its bloodiest year was in 2009 and it or its affiliates carried out probably 17 of the 25 murders that year.
The Kinahan gang's main assassin, currently in prison, personally carried out at least 13 murders, gardai say. A pan-European police operation against the Kinahan cartel and the assassination of its main underboss in Dublin, Eamon Dunne, in April 2011, however, interrupted its near-complete control of the Dublin drugs networks.
Since 2011, there has been an average of one gang-related gun murder in Dublin per month so this year is up a little but not significantly. By April 19 in 2009 there had already been 14 gun murders in Dublin. One of those victims, north inner Dublin man Christy Gilroy, was murdered in Spain and secretly buried. His body has not been recovered.
The Kinahan gang has been responsible for probably half of the murders in the past five years as it has continued to reassert its pre-2011 dominance. That seems to now involve attempting to annihilate the Hutch gang.
This feud involves two areas of the city in the heart of the main finance and tourism areas. While the Hutch bastion is in the shadow of the IFSC, the Kinahan stronghold is the Oliver Bond Flats between Christ Church Cathedral and Guinness.
When Christy Kinahan's ex-wife, and mother of his sons Daniel and Christy Jnr, Jean Boylan died in May 2014, gardai estimated that the gang deployed at least a hundred members as 'security' around the flats so the sons could travel safely to their mother's funeral.
There were spotters on the roof of the flats and cars constantly cruising the area with menacing-looking occupants. Christy Snr didn't travel home from Spain.
Oliver Bond and a number of small enclaves in the south inner city, such as Maryland, the Coombe and Pimlico, are the Kinahan cartel's Irish headquarters.
The 'big' members of both gangs live away from these narrow working-class streets but for the day-to-day operation of their drugs networks, important and trusted figures must remain living there to oversee the distribution of the drugs to the thousands of drug users like Martin O'Rourke who are drawn into the city centre every day.
Ironically, while they are supplied illegally by the gangs, they are supplied legally with the heroin substitute methadone by the State in one or other of the dozen or so drug treatment centres in the city centre. The State, as one local garda observed, is actually the biggest drug dealer, continuing its policy of doling out methadone as a way of keeping the addicts sedated, hopefully preventing them from mugging tourists and shoppers for drug money.
The fear this weekend has been that the Hutch mob will strike back at the wide-open targets of the relatives of the Kinahan mob, many of whom are street traders and also run small front businesses in the south inner city. Wives and girlfriends are particularly vulnerable.
Thursday's murder took place after the Kinahan mob became aware that the additional armed garda presence in the north inner city had been removed, largely due to overtime restrictions. At most, there would have been one or two unmarked garda cars with armed officers on duty at the time in the district.
Gardai and local sources in central Dublin say this feud is "personal" and only likely to become nastier and bloodier.