Dissident bomber kicked to death in alley
Terrorist 'hit' ruled out as gardai focus on aftermath of petty row
A DISSIDENT republican, who was beaten and kicked to death in an alleyway, is believed to have been killed because of a minor dispute.
Father-of-six Larry Keane (56), who was known as 'The Bomber', was found battered in a pool of blood in a laneway – which he used to walk to his son's home at Castlepark in Athy, Co Kildare – shortly before midnight on Thursday.
He earned his nickname after being caught as he was about to transport a massive bomb targeting the Aintree grand national meeting in Liverpool.
Gardai said last night they think the attack could be linked to a previous incident involving Keane and another man.
Detectives do not believe there is any terrorist connection to the murder.
Keane sustained severe injuries to the back of his head as a result of the attack and gardai attempted to resuscitate him at the scene before he was rushed to Naas General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead early yesterday.
Two passers-by alerted gardai after they found him on ground between St John's Lane and the Greenhills housing estate.
Gardai carried out a minute search of nearby undergrowth to establish if a weapon had been used in the attack.
The victim's son, Lawrence Keane, said nurses and doctors fought valiantly into the early hours to save his father's life but he died at 5am.
"God rest your soul, Da, and may you know peace that you never knew in life", the son posted on his website. He declined to pay any further tribute, saying he would not be able "to do justice to him".
Keane was well known to many around Athy, as flowers were laid yesterday to mark the spot at the foot of the bridge over the River Barrow where he sat every day.
He had served with the Defence Forces from 1974 to 1980, including six months peacekeeping in the Lebanon. His former wife claimed that he suffered post-traumatic stress.
Theresa Fennell told how he had been incapacitated in his later years, walking with the aid of a stick after being injured in a car crash several years ago.
"He was living in the town but he lost his flat at Christmas and he was living here with my son," said Ms Fennell, as she spoke outside the house in Castlepark.
Standing at the garda forensics tape sealing off the lane, his friend Paddy Tyrrell described him as a "quiet man" who was "never right" after a car accident.
"He wouldn't have stood a chance, he was broke up. Hardly able to walk," he said, adding that Keane would call into him for a mug of coffee. "He used to stand at the bridge every day, chatting to everyone."
Mrs Fennell explained that Keane used to travel to IRA funerals with men from the town. He was spotted last year, dressed in a black suit and walking alongside the funeral cortege for Real IRA gang boss Alan Ryan. The funeral caused controversy after a paramilitary colour party fired a volley of three shots over the dissident republican's coffin outside his Donaghmede home.
Black flags were draped from lamp-posts and men and women in black trousers with white shirts escorted the coffin.
It is understood that Keane encountered Alan Ryan in Portlaoise Prison, where they were located on the same wing.
He had a number of convictions, including a six-month suspended term for assaulting a man at Leinster Street in Athy town on December 8, 2011. He was fined €400 but this remained unpaid.
However, in 1998 he pleaded guilty to having 980lb of an explosive mixture, plus devices, with the intent to endanger life or enable another to do so at Dun Laoghaire port on April 2, that year. He was sentenced to 15 years in jail but the term was reduced to 10 on appeal.
The court heard that the explosives were twice the size of the bomb used by the Real IRA in Omagh in 1998, when 29 people were killed.
The homemade explosives were contained in a silage bag in the boot of the stolen red BMW that he was driving.
Keane was arrested by the garda emergency response unit as he waited to board the ferry for Wales after gardai had received a tip-off. Gardai believed that the likely target of the Real IRA was the Aintree Grand National.
Keane had a false driving licence on him and was wearing a wig when arrested.
A timer had been placed under the front passenger seat and was connected to detonating cord that passed through to the boot filled with explosives.
The court heard Keane had been offered Stg£2,000 to drive the car bomb to England and that he had been recruited by dissident republicans while working as an orderly in Portlaoise Prison, when he was serving a sentence for assault.