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Sunday 23 October 2016

Priest calls for a 'hero' to end gangland bloodshed

Mourners hear of how gangs have inflicted violence and drugs on 'wonderful people'

Published 16/02/2016 | 02:30

David Byrne's coffin is carried from the church.
David Byrne's coffin is carried from the church.
A floral tribute shows a bottle of Vodka and dilutable blackcurrant at the funeral of David Byrne.
A remote control BMW car is driven from the inside of the church.
The funeral cortege makes its way to Harold's Cross.
Armed gardaí at the funeral.
A piper at the funeral of David Byrne
'Fat' Freddy Thompson at the funeral of David Byrne
Daniel Kinahan
Mourners at the funeral of David Byrne
Liam Roe at the funeral of David Byrne

The throaty roar of three Harley Davidsons chugged to silence as they approached the St Nicholas of Myra Church.

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Driven by members of the infamous Chosen Few biker gang, they led the funeral cortege of murdered drug dealer David Byrne.

The city was on lockdown as the procession snaked its way from Byrne's home in Crumlin to the quaint Francis Street Chapel in Dublin's Liberties.

Hundreds of mourners stood sombre in silence as they waited for the platinum €18,000 coffin to be hoisted from one of the two black Mercedes hearses.

But before the lone piper had a chance to strike a haunting note or the pallbearers could count in their daunting heave, a gaunt, zombie-like drug addict broke the silence.

"Have you any spare change?" he muttered as he moved from person to person through the 400-strong crowd.

Most people ignored him while others simply shook their heads, but one woman - dressed from head to toe in black - snapped and told him to "have some respect" before pulling him aside to continue her rant at a lower decibel level.

Scores of gardaí, some heavily armed, looked on during the minor dispute.

They didn't intervene, but surely they must have wondered how a woman paying her respects to one of the nation's biggest drug barons could be so angry at a man who had been consumed by the same heroin with which her loved one had flooded the streets of Dublin.

The addict disappeared into the crowd away from her grasp as the bagpipes began to blare 'Hard Times Come Again No More'.

The drone of the Garda helicopter that had settled above offered an eerie rhythm to proceedings as some of Ireland's most notorious criminals emerged from 11 dazzling black limos to walk past balaclava-clad armed gardaí from the elite ERU unit.

The funeral will forever go down in history as being a 'who's who' of the Irish criminal underworld.

The sons of Europe's most feared mob boss Christy Kinahan were among the chief mourners.

They were joined by members of the Byrne crime family dynasty, including David's father, James 'Jaws' Byrne; his brother Liam Byrne; and cousins 'Fat' Freddie Thompson and Liam Roe, who all took a turn at carrying his remains.

Byrne's childhood best friend Seán McGovern, who was shot in the Regency attack, also carried the coffin for a time.

Chief celebrant Fr Niall Coghlan called on the gangsters within the congregation to end the bitter feud between the Kinahan cartel and the Hutch mob that has claimed the lives of David Byrne and Eddie Hutch Snr in recent weeks.

The priest called for a "hero" to stick his head above the parapet in order to quell the deadly violence.

"It strikes me that it doesn't take much courage to attack a defenceless person with weapons of destruction," said Fr Coghlan. "What courage is there to walk into a hotel and blast a man to death when he cannot defend himself or to walk into a man's home and do the same thing? It is not courageous.

"What is courageous is someone willing to put their head above the parapet and call for an end to this despicable destruction of human life," he continued.

"You might be a lonely voice in your own world, but for the people of Dublin's north and south inner city - who have suffered greatly at your hands, and not just by the recent violence - you will be a hero because you will bring peace again to our beautiful capital city and an end to the policy of violent death, revenge and tit-for-tat."

As the priest spoke, youths patrolled the street corners outside, watching the crowd.

Many had been present in Dublin Airport on Sunday for the Kinahan brothers' arrival. They had little to worry about yesterday during the 12.30pm ceremony. The enemy did not show. But tensions remain high.

It has been 11 days since associates of the late Gary Hutch - shot dead in Spain last year - stormed the Regency Hotel in Drumcondra and murdered Byrne. In retaliation, his associates burst into the home of Eddie Hutch Snr - the taxi driver brother of rival Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch. Authorities fear more bloodshed, with the bitter war showing no signs of ending.

Yesterday, floral wreaths, spelling out 'Cuz', 'Mate', and 'Uncle', adorned three horsedrawn carriages.

Flowers shrouded a picture of car fanatic Byrne while a young man manoeuvred a remote-controlled BMW bearing the name of his motor business. Other floral tributes took the form of bottles of Smirnoff vodka and Mi Wadi blackcurrant.

As the Mass ended shortly after 2pm, the casket was carried out to the echoes of 'You'll Never Walk Alone'.

Mourners then proceeded, again accompanied by a significant Garda presence, to Mount Jerome Cemetery in Harold's Cross for the burial.

Irish Independent

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