Sinister alliance of young turks behind Limerick's new gang war
The remnants of the infamous McCarthy-Dundon gang have now formed a sinister new alliance with two separate criminal gangs in a bid to regain control in the drugs market and take out a rival gang boss.
Gardai in Limerick are this weekend on high alert for further violence following last week's murder attempt on drug dealer Christy Keane (54) at the University of Limerick.
The father of two was shot four times by two gunmen on Monday morning, and he remains in hospital with entry and exit wounds.
A chronic heroin addict, who has previous convictions for feud-related attacks on associates of Christy Keane, was arrested after the gun attack.
Officers believe the gun attack was approved from behind prison bars by convicted Limerick criminals.
The McCarthy-Dundons have aligned themselves with two criminal outfits in a daring bid to take out Christy Keane and retake control of the lucrative drugs trade.
Larry McCarthy Jnr (37), who served a lengthy sentence for firearms offences in the UK, is first cousin to the Dundon brothers and de facto leader of the McCarthy side.
In a bid to shore up the gang, which was dismantled by gardai, McCarthy is said to have demoted himself several ranks back and is now taking orders from the Dundons behind prison. Understood to be working with them is the Moyross gang of 'Fat John' McCarthy (44). McCarthy is serving 14 years for heroin dealing.
The third outfit in the sinister trinity are Keane's bitter enemies - brothers Eddie (31) and Kieran 'Rashers' Ryan (32) who are cousins to 'Fat John'. The brothers' father, Eddie Ryan, was chief enforcer for Keane in the 1990s but wanted to emerge from his shadow and broke away. He unsuccessfully attempted to murder Keane in 2000 and paid the ultimate price when he was shot dead by Christy's brother, Kieran Keane, and Philip Collopy.
In reprisal, Kieran Keane was murdered in 2003 by five associates of the Ryan brothers in a lethal double-cross, where he was duped into believing he was paying €60,000 to have Eddie and Kieran 'Rashers' Ryan killed, and lured to his death.
The three-gang alliance is targeting Christy Keane and his Island Field drugs base. Previously this year, the Moyross-Ryan alliance made four unsuccessful attempts on the lives of the sons of Kieran Keane and Owen Treacy - a nephew of Christy Keane.
It is the fear of more bloodshed in the 15-year-old feud which has all on tenterhooks. Worryingly for gardai, the new wave of violence - albeit to a far lesser extent than previous years - is taking place in public places. This year, shots have been fired across the Shannon, near the historic Treaty Stone, and Monday's attack took place beside the University of Limerick sports arena as it opened for business. Armed garda protection previously offered to gang targets has been scaled back.
At the same time, old criminal faces are re-emerging just a year after the Dundon brothers' empire was crushed. International drug dealer Jim 'Chaser' O'Brien (52), has been spotted in the city in recent weeks.
Shortly after Kieran Keane's murder in 2003, O'Brien was arrested. Gardai raided his apartment in Annacotty, Co Limerick, and recovered the €60,000 which had been taken from Keane by his five murderers before he was shot dead.
He was not involved in Keane's murder but one of the culprits, Dessie Dundon, was stopped driving O'Brien's Volvo car and falsely gave O'Brien's name as he attempted to escape after the murder. Fearing that he would be targeted by Keane's associates in reprisals, O'Brien fled to Spain, before relocating to Belgium, where he was subsequently arrested in 2005 in Antwerp after police smashed a major European drugs-trafficking operation.
To add fuel to the flames, Kieran 'Rashers' Ryan is due out of jail next month. Christy's son, Liam Keane (31), will be freed from Portloaise prison early next year.
Until this year, Shannonside enjoyed two years without any serious gangland incidents, with nearly all members of the once-powerful McCarthy-Dundon gang jailed. However, garda numbers in the division are well down from the 600 plus officers that were deployed in 2007 when Limerick accounted for a third of all shooting incidents in the State. There is a palpable fear among all of the city's civic stakeholders that the necessary resources are not being deployed to combat the latest chapter of the vicious gang feud.
In 2004, when the five murderers of Kieran Keane were being sentenced to life, Mr Justice Paul Carney warned they could die in prison unless the Limerick feud ended: "I want to say primarily to the friends and supporters of the accused on the outside, that each of them will die in prison unless, in the fullness of time, there is an intervention in their cases by the Parole Board. The Parole Board is entirely independent and it seems to me unlikely to intervene while the feud is a live issue. This should be borne in mind by the supporters of the feud and by the accused men," he said.
Eleven years on, it seems that warning has fallen on deaf and stubborn ears.