Botched kidnap of dentist put an end to high-profile ransom attempts
The violent capture of John O'Grady in 1987 was doomed from the start with psychopathic O'Hare on board, writes Jim Cusack
The gang that kidnapped dentist John O'Grady, who died last week, was as stupid as it was vicious. Two nights before the kidnapping in 1987, one of them stabbed a man to death during a drunken fight in Dundalk and was already being sought by gardai.
The knifeman, Feargal Toal, fellow South Armagh man Dessie O'Hare, Eddie Hogan from Cork, and Tony McNeill from Belfast, were the core of the gang. McNeill recruited the fifth member, Dublin barber Gerry Wright, apparently on the promise that if he helped in the kidnap he would be remunerated and the gang would also murder the man he believed responsible for killing his brother. Another member was Martin Bryan, who was to be shot dead in the final act of the horrible drama surrounding Dr O'Grady's ordeal.
Dessie O'Hare was a notorious psychopath, too crazy even for the Provisional IRA in South Armagh, who had disavowed him after a series of run-ins with other members and hare-brained antics that led to the deaths of two other IRA men.