Sunday 24 June 2018

Gangland killings fall this year but gardai fear bloodshed could increase in 2018

Members of the gardai at the scene at Walterstown, near Dunboyne where the body of Caine McCormack-Kirwan was discovered Photo: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie
Members of the gardai at the scene at Walterstown, near Dunboyne where the body of Caine McCormack-Kirwan was discovered Photo: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Ken Foy

The number of people murdered in gangland killings has fallen significantly this year, as gardai continue to crack down on the Kinahan cartel.

While the Hutch-Kinahan feud led to a spike in gangland killings, with 15 last year, that number has dropped to seven in 2017.

However, detectives fear the bloodshed could increase again next year, as a number of gangs across the capital are on the verge of all-out war.

The local disputes, which are not directly linked to the Hutch-Kinahan feud, have led to a number of people being shot dead this year.

In Finglas, a feud that has seen a number of botched shootings and attacks carried out could boil over, while crime gangs in the Coolock area are on the brink of war over the murder of criminal Jamie Tighe.

Gardai have also kept a visible presence in west Dublin following two murders in the space of a week earlier this year, while other feuds are developing in Tallaght and Blanchardstown.

Two of the murders carried out this year are connected to the Hutch-Kinahan feud, which erupted following the Regency Hotel shooting in February 2016, with the other five linked to local disputes across the capital.

Two gun murders in west Dublin in a week led to fears of revenge attacks in that part of the city.

On September 9, Darragh Nugent was gunned down outside a house in Wheatfield Avenue, Neilstown, shortly after 9.30pm.

The 36-year-old was a close associate of suspected hitman James ‘Nellie’ Walsh and was himself before the courts on a firearm charge at the time of his death.

A week after Nugent’s murder, his close friend John Gibson (28) was shot dead in the CityWest area of the capital.

Gibson was not involved in the feuding and is believed to have been gunned down because he was linked to an innocent female relative of Walsh.

These two murders are suspected of being carried out by a Clondalkin mob that is led by a close associate of the Kinahan cartel.

This individual was questioned over a botched murder plot against Hutch gang member James ‘Mago’ Gately and has also been arrested over a multi-million-pound drug seizure in Britain that is linked to the cartel.

Since the two murders, he has gone into hiding, with gardai fearing that his rivals will strike back against the gang.

“He has gone to ground, and his gang is getting weaker the longer he stays away,” a source told the Herald.

“There are major concerns of a revenge attack against his gang over the murders of Nugent and John Gibson.”

These two murders are linked to a feud in the area, which has so far claimed five lives.

Another death this year that gardai fear could lead to further gun attacks was the murder of Jamie Tighe (24).

He was shot dead outside a house in the Moatview area of Coolock in the early hours of October 28.

He had links to a number of criminal gangs and was previously before the courts for assaulting a garda, as well as for firearms offences.

In the aftermath of his killing, a close male associate of Tighe armed himself with a firearm to “seek revenge”.

Officers are braced for a backlash between associates of Tighe and their enemies based in the Coolock and Finglas areas.

Tighe was a close associate of a notorious Dublin hitman who is the chief suspect in the murders of mother-of-six Antoinette Corbally (48) and innocent locksmith Clinton Shannon (30) in north Dublin in the summer.

The double murder was carried out in Ballymun on August 15 and has led to growing tensions in the area.

Detectives have so far arrested one individual who they suspect sourced the cars used in the hit, while armed gardai have kept a constant presence in the area.

The intended target was convicted criminal Derek ‘Bottler’ Devoy (38), who fled over a wall at the rear of the property when the shooting began.

Despite eight murders being committed in Ireland as part of the Hutch-Kinahan feud last year, that number has dropped to two so far in 2017, owing largely to a number of successful garda operations.

Michael Keogh (38) was shot dead in an underground car park near Dorset Street on May 30.

He was not centrally involved with the Kinahan cartel, but was closely linked to some of its associates.

Last month, Caine McCormack-Kirwan (24) was found dead with three gunshot wounds in a field near the Meath-Kildare border.

Gardai suspect he was shot dead on the orders of the Kinahan cartel, and are investigating whether a west Dublin crime gang was hired to carry out the murder.

Assistant Commissioner Pat Leahy previously revealed that gardai investigating 19 murders in the capital in the first 11 months of the year had made 19 arrests, while seven people had been charged as part of those investigations.

These murders include the seven carried out by organised crime gangs as well as domestic homicides and other killings.

Officers have also carried out 42 searches as part of murder investigations, which have resulted in eight firearms being seized and a total of 3,991 investigative tasks being carried out.

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