Garda ring of steel ahead of gangland funeral of David Byrne
Army on standby for funeral of Regency Hotel murder victim
Published 15/02/2016 | 02:30
Gardaí will step up armed patrols in Dublin's north inner city today to deter any attempts to escalate the feud between two of the country's most lethal gangs at a funeral service for murder victim David Byrne (34).
Senior sources have revealed that the Defence Forces are on standby to assist them in bomb sweeps around the city.
Members of the Emergency Response Unit will throw a cordon around the potential flashpoint areas as mourners gather to pay their final respects to Byrne, who was shot dead at the Regency Hotel on the northside of the city on Friday February 5.
Byrne, who is to be buried today in a €15,000 coffin, played an active part in the gang led by underworld boss Christy Kinahan. A number of associates are expected to turn up at the service.
Gardaí have been monitoring air and sea ports over the weekend to establish how many of those associates are arriving here from Spain, the Netherlands and the UK.
Senior officers say they do not expect any trouble while the service is being held at the Church of St Nicholas of Myra in Francis Street.
A security plan will cover the hours immediately before and after the service, and well-known haunts of gang associates in the capital are also being kept under watch.
Armed checkpoints and patrols have been in place across the city since the Regency attack and the tit-for-tat murder of Eddie Hutch Senior in the north inner city last Monday.
But the armed Garda presence around Francis Street and in Crumlin, where Byrne and several of his associates either live or have connections, has been increased.
Signs were hung on the gates of the small Liberties chapel yesterday instructing the public and media that their presence would not be welcomed at the service.
One sign insisted that no photography, filming or audio recording would be permitted inside or outside the church.
Detectives from the Garda Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau will be monitoring the service in unmarked cars, while other specialist units will also be active.
It is understood that armed members of the Defence Forces have also been made available to be called on if tensions boil over. A spokesperson for the Defence Forces said they could not comment on the current gangland feud for operational reasons, but added they "maintain appropriate support and capability."
"The Defence Forces do not "comment on matters of operational security," a spokesperson said. "The Defence Forces maintain appropriate support and capability on call to the Civil Power."
Yesterday, roads surrounding David Byrne's family home were closed, with armed Garda checkpoints at the entrance to Raleigh Square.
Nearby, Clonard Road was closed to the public, while on Kildare Road gardaí maintained another heavy armed presence.
Gardaí were also visible yesterday searching a black Range Rover Sport close to the Byrne home.
Detectives could be seen searching the undercarriage and removing sections of the engine cover and bonnet lining.
Gardaí say that the saturation policing over the past week has already disrupted the activities of the two gangs involved in the bloody feud and prevented them from carrying out further acts of violence.
Several major gangland players have "gone to ground" since the two murders.
Gardaí have a list of what they describe as "persons of interest", who are suspected of either taking part directly in one of the attacks, planning the murders or providing logistical support to the gangs.
Forensic examination of the footage taken at the Regency Hotel and of the getaway car, balaclava helmets and other items abandoned by the killers of Eddie Hutch Sr has played a significant role in drafting that list.
Most of those on the list are from Dublin, while some are known to have been regularly commuting between here and mainland Europe.