Friday 24 March 2017

Garda bosses to meet Policing Authority on capital's gang wars

FUNERAL: Mourners carry the remains of slain taxi driver Eddie Hutch Snr after he was gunned down in an attack at his Ballybough home in Poplar Row, Dublin by a four-man hit-team following the murder of David Byrne in the Regency Hotel
FUNERAL: Mourners carry the remains of slain taxi driver Eddie Hutch Snr after he was gunned down in an attack at his Ballybough home in Poplar Row, Dublin by a four-man hit-team following the murder of David Byrne in the Regency Hotel
COVERED UP: Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch keeps his cap tugged down over a grey wig as he attends his brother’s funeral
Jim Cusack

Jim Cusack

Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan is to meet the newly formed Policing Authority this week and it is expected she will be quizzed about gangland violence.

The Sunday Independent last week asked if the authority would be seeking an explanation as to why gardai had no members present at the boxing weigh-in at the Regency Hotel on February 5 when five assassins carried out the attack in which gangster, David Byrne, was shot dead. Undercover journalists from Independent News & Media were present and recorded the images and events which were broadcast around the world.

The commissioner dismissed criticism of the Garda's absence saying: "You cannot have members of the Garda going to every single event just because criminals may be there."

Asked if the Policing Authority would seek an explanation from the commissioner why there were no gardai present at the Regency, the authority said its discussions would be of a "systematic rather than a case-specific focus".

The owner of the Regency, James McGettigan said he received no response from the emergency 999 Garda number and had to ring a friend who is a Dublin detective. The fire brigade and ambulances arrived before gardai.

Under the legislation setting up the authority it has to hold four public meetings with the Garda Commissioner each year but its reply did not make clear whether Wednesday's meeting with Ms O'Sullivan would be private or public.

In Northern Ireland, the Policing Authority there holds monthly public meetings with senior police at which a wide range of policing issues are discussed.

Gardai said to be investigating the Regency attack and subsequent murder of Eddie Hutch two days later have questioned several journalists including those who have written stories about the events but were not present.

No arrests of suspects have taken place though the PSNI carried out a raid on a house in Strabane, Co Tyrone on Thursday last seeking to arrest the man pictured with a handgun and wearing a flat cap as he ran from the hotel alongside a young man in female attire, also holding a handgun.

In its statement, the authority said: "The Garda Siochana threat assessment in relation to organized criminal activity and its approach to intelligence management in relation to such criminal activity will be among the topics to be discussed with the commissioner at the authority's meeting with the commissioner," adding: "Mindful of ongoing operations, such discussions by their nature will need to be at a high level with a systematic, rather than case-specific focus."

The authority was set up last year in the wake of the controversies that led to the resignations of former Commissioner Martin Callinan and the former Minister for Justice Alan Shatter following months of controversy over the Garda's discretionary handling of traffic offences.

Gardai privately say the reason there were no undercover officers present at the Regency weigh-in, which was known as a clear target for associates of Gary Hutch who was shot dead in Spain last September, was due to a breakdown in anti-gang policing.

There have been no prosecutions for gang-related murders in Dublin in three years and there is now a less than one-in-ten clearance rate in the more than 200 gang murders in the past 10 years.

Senior Garda sources have also told the Sunday Independent that the Republic is now a major transit route for drugs supplies into the United Kingdom.

They say the current round of violence springs from challenges to the authority of the syndicate built up over years by the ex-Dublin criminal figure, Christy Kinahan, in both Spain and here. Prior to the attempt to murder Kinahan's son, Daniel, who was the main target at the weigh-in, another attempt was made on his life at his home in Marbella in August 2014.

The Kinahan mob is also under threat from British gangs in Spain.

Sunday Independent

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