Steve Collins: ‘We lost everything standing up to our son’s murderers’
The father of murdered Roy Collins yesterday said his family were subjected to a terrifying series of death threats at the hands of Wayne Dundon and his henchmen before they were forced into exile.
Steve Collins also revealed his family plan to return to Ireland from abroad, where they have been living under
a witness relocation programme, once their security handlers say it is safe for them to do so.
The former publican and his family have paid a terrible price for his brave decision to stand up to the McCarthy-Dundons, who were once the most feared criminal gang in the country.
However, despite their more than a decade-long ordeal, Mr Collins yesterday insisted he has no regrets about testifying against the Dundons.
“I had to trust the justice system,” he told RTE’s Marian Finucane.
“We’ve been wiped out, everything has been taken away. We have to start from scratch.”
Aside from Roy’s murder, Mr Collins has lost everything since his nephew, Ryan Lee, refused entry to Wayne Dundon’s underage sister at his pub in Limerick in December 2004.
Brannigan’s bar, once a thriving establishment, was subsequently burned down by members of the McCarthy-Dundon gang.
Prior to this, gang members would frequently drive up to the pub late at night and flash car lights at the family and customers inside.
Once, the thugs dug a grave outside the premises, according to Mr Collins, “to let me know that I was next”.
Last week, it emerged that Wayne Dundon had offered to pay a hitman €500,000 to kill any member of the Collins family before the
murder trial, which ended last week with Dundon and his associate Nathan Killeen receiving life sentences.
It was not the first time that Dundon had threatened Steve Collins prior to a trial.
Just before Wayne Dundon’s 2005 trial for threatening to kill Ryan Lee, Collins received a letter from Dundon saying, “look at all the other people that’s dead” as a tactic to intimidate him.
Eventually, Mr Collins and his family were forced to leave Limerick for their own safety.
“It was heartbreaking to make that decision, to leave your family and friends.
There wasn’t one of us who wanted to go away,” Mr Collins said.
“It helped us with the grieving process and gave us time to recover, so in that it was worthwhile. But it is what it is. It’s been very hard being away at my age, when everything has been taken away from you.”
However, despite all of the threats made against him, Mr Collins said, “I feel safe today”, adding: “I didn’t up until now. I was being followed by two armed gardai wearing a bulletproof vest.”
Mr Collins and his family hope to return to Ireland at some stage in the future.
“As soon as it settles down and the security people say it is okay, we would love to return,” he said.