Sunday 25 February 2018

IRA and INLA at war on capital's streets

Aligning of the INLA with Kinahans and IRA with the Hutches stokes fears of further violence

Bridgefoot Street in Dublin
Bridgefoot Street in Dublin
Jim Cusack

Jim Cusack

The IRA and its splinter group the INLA are now on opposing sides in the Dublin gang feuding.

After more than two decades of successfully avoiding being tarred as a common criminal organisation involved in drugs smuggling, the remnants of the Provisional IRA are being dragged into the Kinahan-Hutch feud - apparently on the wrong side.

Gang war: David 'Daithi' Douglas who was shot dead on Bridgefoot Street, in Dublin
Gang war: David 'Daithi' Douglas who was shot dead on Bridgefoot Street, in Dublin

The Provisionals entered the Dublin drugs world in the late 1980s, murdering several drug dealers who refused to pay 'protection' money to the 'Republican Movement'. At the same time the IRA and Sinn Fein were heavily involved in the public protests against drug dealers in the city under the Concerned Parents Against Drugs banner.

Many ordinary innocent people who had lost loved ones to heroin addiction took part in the protests which eventually fizzled out after disenchantment set in about its control by the IRA.

David Douglas, who was shot dead by the Kinahan mob in Dublin last Thursday week, was one of the 'Concerned Parents' protesters but was also part of the IRA group which began extorting money from dealers and then entering fully into the importation of large quantities of cocaine and heroin, according to now-retired Garda detectives in the city.

Douglas was regarded as second-in-command of the Cabra-Finglas IRA unit which was heavily involved in racketeering and drugs.

Gardai believed the IRA unit Douglas was part of carried out a number of murders of drug dealers for refusing to pay the IRA's extortion demands. The IRA shot dead Peter 'Psycho' Judge (41) in Finglas in December 1996. They were also regarded as responsible for the murder of Gerard Moran (35) in Drumcondra in November 1998 and Joseph Foran (38) in Finglas in February 2000.

Douglas and his associates were also linked to the murder of the prominent Dublin criminal Seamus 'Shavo' Hogan (48), who was gunned down outside a social club in Crumlin in July 2001.

Hogan had been a close associate of the 'General' Martin Cahill, whose murder in August 1994 the IRA actually claimed, stating falsely that he was involved with the loyalist terror group, the Ulster Volunteer Force. While the Provisionals kept up the pretence of being vigilantes working against drug pushers, they were secretly tapping into the drugs market by extorting 'protection' money from small time dealers and working hand-in-hand with the main Hutch and Kinahan cartels.

Christy Kinahan, gardai say, had a working relationship with the Provisional IRA dating from the early 1990s, when they were involved in handling bank drafts. At the same time they were also working closely with the Hutch gang and may have carried out the murders of the north and northwest Dublin dealers for payment by the Hutch gang.

The IRA 'unit' that Douglas was part of was one of the first to move full-time into drugs importation, using IRA smuggling routes that had been set up for arms importation during the 1980s.

During the 'Peace Process' period this switch from terrorism to gangsterism was largely covered up as it was deemed 'unhelpful' to the peace process. Attempts were made to gag journalists who wrote about the IRA's involvement in 'ordinary' crime to an extent that could be described as a cover-up by both the British and Irish governments.

Gardai, particularly the Special Detective Unit, were placed under order not to disclose the IRA's involvement in criminality. Although there was official denial from both sides, gardai and police in Northern Ireland were directed not to stop and check known Provisionals as this could be determined as disrupting the IRA's movement towards constitutional politics via Sinn Fein.

Well before the first ceasefire in 1994, the Provisional IRA had stamped its authority on the Dublin drugs gangs and had a working relationship with both the Hutch and Kinahan cartels. The Dublin IRA was, in fact, the main 'fundraising' wing of the organisation.

Drugs money was, along with subventions running into hundreds of millions of euros/Pounds from the Irish and British governments, made the Provisional Republican movement the richest political group in the two jurisdictions.

At one point, the IRA in Dublin was the main conduit for cocaine and heroin into the city, working on behalf of both major gangs.

This relationship is now broken. The murder of David 'Daithi' Douglas by the Kinahan mob is said to have horrified Christy Kinahan and the older multi-millionaire cartel figures living mainly in Spain, according to Garda sources last week.

Kinahan senior is said to be against any further blood-letting because of the damage it causes to the gang's supply networks.

But in Dublin, where Kinahan gunmen in their 20s and early 30s are waging a war to the death against the Hutches, the views of the ex-pat cartel leaders are said to carry little weight.

The IRA, particularly its remaining members north of the Liffey, are regarded as inextricably linked to the Hutch mob and, as such, legitimate targets.

Meanwhile, the splinter republican group, the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), has been in bed with the Kinahan mob via its senior figures who were, at one time, members of, or associates of the INLA.

Republican sources say that the INLA bought a major consignment of cocaine from the Kinahan cartel early last year with the intention of distributing it in parts of Dublin, the Border area and in Belfast and Derry.

However, it is understood this has led to internal divisions after a substantial part of the reputed €3m consignment went missing.

The INLA and IRA had a working relationship, particularly in relation to 'fundraising' activities throughout the Troubles and after the ceasefires.

The INLA also benefited from 'peace' funding - but like the Provisionals, the INLA held on to the bulk of its arsenal.

The aligning of the INLA with the Kinahans and the IRA with the Hutches in Dublin could, police on both sides of the Border believe, lead to a worsening and spreading of the Dublin feuding.

The PSNI has made several arrests in relation to the distribution of Kinahan-supplied drugs in the North with a number of known INLA figures suspected of involvement in the movement of drugs and murders of rivals.

Gardai are watching the situation in the Dublin feuding evolve with increasing trepidation since the murder of Douglas. The IRA never allowed any of its members to be killed without exacting revenge in the past.

But they are now firmly entrenched - in the Kinahan gang's eyes at least - on the Hutch side and it remains to be seen if after 45 years in existence, they are about to bow out ignominiously defined as common criminals.

Sunday Independent

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