Partner of Vinnie Ryan cradles their daughter as murdered dissident laid to rest
Published 08/03/2016 | 10:18
Cradling her six-week-old daughter, the partner of murdered dissident Vinnie Ryan kissed a photo before placing it on his coffin at his funeral this morning.
Ryan (25) was gunned down as he sat in his car outside his girlfriend Kelly Smyth’s home in Finglas on Monday of last week.
Friends and family members took turns carrying the coffin, which was draped in a tricolour, as they slowly made their way from the Ryan home in Grange Abbey to the Church of the Holy Trinity in Donaghmede today.
A major garda security operation was put in place, with dozens of officers, some armed, policing the streets.
A major north Dublin drugs gang, with whom Ryan and his associates had clashed in the past, are the chief suspects for his murder.
A lone bagpiper led the procession and motorcyclists lined the road and revved their engines as as the coffin and hearse passed.
Dressed in black, hundreds of mourners walked behind the family.
Relatives carried a selection of altar gifts, including a motorbike helmet, a photo of Ryan’s daughter and a pair of barbers’ clippers – a reference to his business.
Ryan was brought from the church to the tune of Ed Sheeran's song Photograph, with the opening words 'loving can hurt, and a chorus of 'you won't ever be alone, wait for me to come home' filling the church.
The funeral cortège left the church just as it arrived - in slow silence as a large group of men and women in black trousers, shoes and ties, with white shirts, marched behind the coffin.
There was time outside the church for Vincent Ryan's family to hug each other and be comforted by friends and neighbour's.
There was also time to replace the tricolour on the coffin.
Little baby Phoenix, who was as quiet as a lamb during the entire funeral, was wrapped against the cold in a padded pink suit.
Kelly Smyth told mourners at his funeral that the last conversation that Vincent Ryan had with her - his partner and mother of their five week old baby - was about getting married.
“Some people go through their whole life trying to find true love. You were not only my boyfriend, you were my best friend,” she said, talking about his beautiful eyes and smile,” she said.
“But there was one thing he loved more than anything else and that was his family. We had the perfect little family and so much plans for the future. You wanted more kids and to get married. The last conversation we had that day was about getting married. You used to say to me before you kiss me ‘this is how I’m going to kiss you before we get married’ and we would laugh and joke and you would tell me you would get dance lessons for our wedding,” she added.
“Now we will never have that day, or any day,” said Kelly, adding that he would miss her first words and steps, birthdays, and Christmases, and begging him to look over them both and protect them.
Kelly also promised to tell their daughter about everything he did, and how great he was.
“Keep our little girl safe. I love you forever and always. It's not goodbye, It’s ‘til we meet again. Wait for me to come home. Look after your girls,” she said through tears.
Kelly earlier brought laughter to the church when she described how Vincent loved being a barber, and how he had worked hard at it and hoped one day to open his own shop.
“Whenever he would be out you would be looking at lads hair and telling me how you’d love to fix it,” said Kelly.
Vincent’s brother Eoin also spoke to the mourners.
“Love is stronger than death. I have your blood running through my veins. Although your physical presence isn’t to be seen, your spiritual presence will be seen in the wind, the rain, the sky and the sun,” he said.
“Any person capable of angering you becomes your master. They can anger you only when you permit yourself to be disturbed by them. Let the laughter of our children be our friend,” he added.
Gardai stopped the traffic to let the cortège out into the road and the slow march towards Fingal cemetery began.
Vinnie Ryan was then laid to rest along side his brother and father.
The mood inside the church was sombre as Father Gerry Corcoran spoke of Ryan’s death.
Fr Corcoran described Ryan as a “loving son, partner, father, brother, uncle, cousin and friend”.
Fr Corcoran spoke of the enormity of the tragedy before asking: “Why did this happen? Why now? Why Vincent? Why not to someone else?”
Ryan’s brother, Real IRA leader Alan Ryan, was murdered in 2012 and received a paramilitary funeral which included a volley of shots being fired over his coffin.
There was a massive garda presence around Donaghmede since yesterday afternoon, when Vinnie Ryan’s coffin was brought home to be waked.
Today, an armed garda security operation, which included members of the Special Detective Unit, surrounded the 10am funeral mass.
Fr Corcoran said the Ryan family’s world had been turned upside down in the wake of Vinnie’s sudden and shocking murder.
“We immediately start asking questions like, is this real? Or is it a horrific nightmare which I will wake up from?
“Very soon, the enormity of the tragedy begins to sink in and the reality of what is happening begins to emerge.
Fr Corcoran remembered Ryan as a “witty, intelligent man, who loved to play pranks”.
The priest cited the birth of Mr Ryan’s young daughter as a defining moment in his life and said her birth six weeks ago brought an “unreal” sense of joy to him.
“He loved his partner Kelly and the birth of their baby daughter Phoenix just six weeks ago brought great joy and new life to him.
“His excitement at her birth was described to me as “unreal”, he added.
Fr Corcoran said Ryan was a man who valued “friendship greatly”.
Fr Corcoran told mourners that when a “young person dies suddenly and violently, as Vincent has, it is a stark reminder that we should never take life for granted”.
“Which is why we must live each day to its fullest and embrace it a gift from God.”
Fr Corcoran reminded mourners of Mr Ryan’s many talents.
He said he was “a good handyman who could “put his hand to anything” who played guitar and enjoyed music.
Mourners also heard Ryan was a teetotaller.
“He was a non-smoker, non-drinker and never used drugs.
“He enjoyed watching TV especially the Discovery channel,” Father Corcoran added.
Ryan was a keen motorcyclist and his love of bikes had emerged at a young age.
“Vincent enjoyed cycling from a young age and more recently his love of his motorbiking emerged.”
Ryan is being buried at Fingal Cemetery in north Dublin this afternoon.
This morning, gardai conducted a security sweep of the cemetery.
Officers with sniffer dogs patrolled this morning through Fingal Cemetery, near the plot where Ryan will be buried alongside his brother Alan.
In the immediate aftermath of his murder, Ryan’s family said Ryan would have a “traditional republican family funeral” but stressed that it would not be a military one.
The Ryan family also called for no retaliation for his gun murder and an end to the violence being carried out on the streets by drug gangs.
Speaking on behalf of his family, Vinnie’s brother Dermot described him as a staunch and honourable republican, but one who had stepped aside from involvement in republican activity and did not “report back” to the IRA after his release from prison in 2013.
“From that time, he has solely been concerned with building his business as a barber and creating a family life with his partner Kelly and new-born baby, Phoenix,” he said.
The family also refuted claims that Vinnie was involved in the Regency bloodbath.
“It has also been alleged that Vincent was questioned in relation to the provision of AK 47s used in the Regency Hotel attack. This allegation is totally without foundation,” Dermot Ryan said.
“We are proud and honoured to have known and loved Vincent for his short life,” the statement continued.
Ryan is survived by his partner Kelly and baby Phoenix, his mother Marion and siblings Anthony, Niamh, Dermot and Eoin.
Gardai are continuing to investigate the murder of the father of one, but no arrests have yet been made.
Detectives are investigating whether an organised crime gang led by a drug dealer known as ‘Mr Big’ is behind the killing.
Members of the drug trafficker’s gang are the prime suspects in the murder of Alan Ryan, and the victim’s family have also blamed ‘Mr Big’ for the latest murder.
Gardai are continuing to investigate whether ‘Mr Big’ was involved in the murder of Vinnie Ryan, as well as examining a host of other “complicated theories” in connection to his death.
A Volkswagen Golf which gardai believe was used in the murder of Mr Ryan was found burnt out in Co Kildare after the killing.