Opinion Columnists

Monday 24 July 2017

What the Monk and Mary Lou McDonald have in common

Jonathan Dowdall's inner city ties embroiled him in a gang war but a small-time chancer brought him down, writes Maeve Sheehan

BEFORE THE FALL: Mary Lou McDonald, Gerry Adams and Jonathan Dowdall
BEFORE THE FALL: Mary Lou McDonald, Gerry Adams and Jonathan Dowdall
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

Jonathan Dowdall drove all the way to Newry unaware of the bugging device located somewhere in his €85,000 white BMW. Beside him in the passenger seat was Gerry Hutch, a family friend since childhood and fellow boxing fan.

They were, in some ways, an unlikely pair: the north inner city criminal who ploughed his stolen loot into property, paid off the Criminal Assets Bureau and had supposedly gone straight. Dowdall, on the other hand, was the north inner city kid who grew up with the Hutches, stayed out of trouble, set up his own business, became a short-lived Sinn Fein politician and sponsor of local boxing clubs.

It was early March 2016, in the bloody aftermath of the spectacular gun attack at the Regency Hotel in Dublin. One of the top lieutenants of the drug trafficker Christy Kinahan had been shot dead. The Kinahans retaliated with a string of gangland hits, including the murder of Gerry's brother, Eddie. The heat was on. With a contract on his head and at the centre of a massive Garda operation, Hutch was under pressure. According to Garda sources, Dowdall agreed to drive Hutch across the border to a meeting. Whether Dowdall was aware of it or not, it is understood that Hutch's meeting was with members of the Real IRA about getting guns and ammunition out of Dublin and across the border.

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