Friday 15 December 2017

Taoiseach: 'No place in Irish society for groups like the Continuity IRA'

Niall O'Connor and Cormac McQuinn

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has said there is "no place" in Irish society for groups like the Continuity IRA, which claimed responsibility for Friday's horror gun attack in the Regency Hotel.

As Garda investigations into the murder of Crumlin man David Byrne (33) continues, Mr Kenny did not speculate on who was responsible for the attack.

However he did say that the incident highlighted the need for the Special Criminal Court which Sinn Féin is campaiging to abolish.

"When I see the Sinn Féin Party talking about abolishing the Special Criminal Court I think the people of this country would want to be very careful and take very careful note of the propositions on the table," he warned.

"Mark you. The security of your state, the security of your community, the security of our society is at stake here because those who conduct business in the way that we saw in the Regency Hotel in  the last few days have no regard for either law and order or life and limb."

He said that "gross intimidation of juries and witnesses is the normal play for those people involved in that criminal activity either dissident Republicanism, continuity IRA, remnants of Provisional IRA or gangland criminals.

"There is no place for them in this society," Mr Kenny added.

In a statement to the BBC in Belfast, the Continuity IRA said they ordered the killing of David Byrne using a six-man gang, some armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles and dressed in Swat team uniforms, at the Regency.

Members of the Gardai following the fatal shooting of David Byrne (34), (from Raleigh Square, Crumlin) at the Regency Hotel, Dublin
Members of the Gardai following the fatal shooting of David Byrne (34), (from Raleigh Square, Crumlin) at the Regency Hotel, Dublin

The terror group reportedly claimed Byrne, 33, from Crumlin in Dublin, was singled out as a reprisal for the killing of Real IRA leader Alan Ryan in Dublin in September 2012.

Garda sources have indicated that they will examine all possibilities, but it is not clear why the Continuity IRA would carry out a reprisal shooting for the murder of Ryan, who was leader of a separate dissident organisation.

This morning, the Taoiseach called on Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams to immediately clarify whether the AK47s used in Friday’s gangland attack are similar to those used by Provisional IRA.

Enda Kenny said reports suggest that the military-style weapons carried by the armed gang that struck at the Regency Hotel were similar to the IRA’s armload imported during The Troubles.

And the Fine Gael leader dragged Mr Adams into the controversy, demanding an immediate statement.

“If that’s the case, an appropriate statement from the President of Sinn Fein should be made immediately,” Mr Kenny said at a Fine Gael press conference in Dublin.

“If there is any connection between this sort of dissident, criminal and gangland republicanism or anything else. It makes utter hypocrisy of the statements being made of the Sinn Féin President,” he added.

Mr Adams has always denied ever being a member of the IRA and has condemned Friday’s attack, which saw the murder of Tallaght-based criminal David Byrne.

But the Government also came under major pressure today after it emerged that a garda patrol was not at the scene in Drumcondra prior to the hit.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said that she has been informed by Garda Commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan that there was no intelligence to suggest that the attack was being planned.

“I have spoken to the Commissioner about this this morning and what she has said to me is that obviously that was a decision they took, it was an operational decision,” she said.

“They have no intelligence which they believe would have warranted their presence their. The harsh reality is intelligence is not always available in relation to the committing of crime.”

The Dublin West TD said the incident was “unprecedented” and that she will not “second guess” the decision making of the gardaí.

When pressed on how the gardaí did not have the intelligence given that it had been reported in the media that gang members were planning to attend boxing events, Ms Fitzgerald replied said gardai make decisions on surveillance on a day to day basis.

“This was an operational decision taken by An Garda Síochána. Clearly, you’re saying that was reported, the gardaí would have taken everything into account when they make these operational decisions,” she said.

“Let’s remember they have to make decisions about a whole variety of events on a day-to-day basis and they have to do a whole amount of surveillance on a day to day basis, based on national threats and international threats,” she added.

Ms Fitzgerald also confirmed that a new Special Criminal Court will be operational by April 4.

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