News Analysis

Tuesday 23 September 2014

How crime has spread from capital to rural idylls

Paul Williams

Published 26/04/2014 | 02:30

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THE first time a community realises that it has a serious crime problem is when gangsters begin shooting and murdering each other.

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The fact that two men who went to Ballyjamesduff to collect a drug debt have disappeared and are feared dead has probably not come as a shock to the decent people of south Cavan.

For the past 10 years or so Dublin criminals have been moving to largely rural counties to keep themselves at a safe distance from the action back home.

Members of criminal and terrorist gangs are living throughout the country – especially in areas brought closer to Dublin by the motorway network.

Their presence in rural backwaters has been underlined with an increase in shootings, bombings and murders in towns where there had never been violence before.

Ten years ago members of a notorious north Dublin crime organisation specialising in drugs and tiger kidnaps made Ballyjamesduff their home.

They initially bought three houses and, over time, other criminal associates moved to the area.

From the time of their arrival, gardai in the Cavan/Monaghan division began seizing significant quantities of drugs, guns and equipment for packaging large-scale drug shipments.

The leader of the gang is on the run after being charged with threatening to kill a CAB officer who was involved in seizing one of his Cavan homes.

The crime boss and his sidekick have been targeted by dissident republicans for organising the murder of Real IRA boss Alan Ryan in 2012.

He is also suspected of the murder of drug courier Patrick Lawlor (23) who vanished in December 2004 when he travelled to Ballyjamesduff.

Gardai believe his body has been buried somewhere in the area and a number of searches have been carried out there.

Just 20km away from Ballyjamesduff, at Cornaveagh near Bailieborough, was the base of former cop-turned-gangster John Kerins. The 49-year-old former detective was heavily involved with a number of gangs handling stolen goods and smuggling drugs and guns.

Gardai suspect Kerins and his associates, members of the Travelling community, murdered Dublin criminal Gerard Daly who was also a member of the gang.

Daly vanished in June 2011 and gardai believe that his body is buried somewhere in the area.

In November 2012 Kerins was shot dead in his home. Following the gangland murder, gardai dug up the garden at his house searching for Daly's body.

In May, 2008 convicted drug dealer Darren McGrath, who was originally from Mahon in Cork, was shot dead as he slept beside his fiancee in Belturbet.

Local man Trevor McCabe was later convicted of the murder and is serving life. Last October, Richard O'Donovan was feared dead after he was abducted in Virginia.

Gardai launched a major search operation after the gang snatched O'Donovan after ramming his car in broad daylight.

Detectives said his abduction had the hallmarks of a "well-planned gangland" operation. Mr O'Donovan was later released, bruised but alive, the following morning in Cavan. He refused to make a complaint.

Irish Independent

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