Just one gang member is likely to be charged with murder of Adrian Donohoe
Published 11/01/2014 | 02:30
A SOUTH Armagh man with close links to the GAA is likely to be the only member of a crime gang charged with the cold-blooded murder of Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe, security sources have revealed.
The four other gang members involved in the attempted armed robbery at the Lordship Credit Union in Co Louth will face serious charges including possession of firearms and attempted robbery.
On January 25 last year, Adrian Donohoe and his partner, Detective Garda Joe Ryan, were escorting an official who was collecting cash from the credit union when they were ambushed.
The 41-year-old father of two was shot at close range without warning by one gang member as he got out of his unmarked patrol car in the credit union car park.
Investigators have said that footage of the incident shows that the gunman, who has been identified, clearly intended killing the officer.
As the first anniversary of the murder approaches, senior sources told the Irish Independent that the investigation was "quietly making steady progress" in building a case against the south Armagh gang.
A team of detectives has been involved full-time in painstakingly sifting through CCTV footage seized from 200 locations.
Gardai established the identity of the five criminals early on in the investigation and they were informally interviewed by the PSNI.
It is understood that vital information about their movements before and after the attempted robbery has been gleaned in recent months, which contradicts their version of events.
Senior officers stressed that there had been no let-up in the pace of the investigation over the past year despite scarce resources.
A source said: "This has always been a very difficult murder investigation, which will take time to solve, but everyone is confident the culprits will be brought to justice."
Two of the five suspects are brothers and all the gang members have close links to the GAA and Republicanism in south Armagh's so-called Bandit Country.
The prime suspect for the murder of Det Gda Donohoe, who is also the gang leader, played for his club in the past.
The south Armagh criminals, all of whom are aged in their 20s, were responsible for a crime spree along the Border in recent years and were well known to gardai including Det Gda Donohoe.
They were members of a wider circle of up to 20 young Republican thugs from along the Louth/Armagh/Monaghan region involved in fuel smuggling, armed robbery and car theft.
Last year, gardai arrested two men suspected of stealing the Volkswagen Passat used in the murder and later found burnt out near a forest in south Armagh. It had been taken from Clogherhead, Co Louth, three days before the raid.
Security sources believe that members of the robbery gang who had not been involved in the shooting were afraid to come forward because they might also face murder charges.
"One member of the gang deliberately shot Adrian Donohoe dead and it is possible that the others had no intention of killing anyone but they need to come forward before they also face murder charges," said the source.
Gardai have been working closely with the FBI and other US law-enforcement agencies, which have been keeping surveillance on two of the suspects who travelled for work to New York and Boston last summer.
Detectives from the murder investigation team recently interviewed the two men in New York with the assistance of local police officers.
Under US law, the men were compelled to attend the meeting with gardai but they refused to answer any questions.
Senior garda sources said that despite the severe cutbacks in resources, the investigation had not lost momentum.
"Resources are always an issue but budgets have been managed to ensure that this investigation continues unhindered," said a source.
"Provision has already been made to resource a major push in the investigation when the time is deemed right to make our move."