Tuesday 20 March 2018

IRA sympathisers agree not to fire shots over Larry Keane coffin

Mourners at the funeral of Larry Keane today
Mourners at the funeral of Larry Keane today
Mourners at the funeral of Larry Keane today
Mourners at the funeral of Larry Keane today
Conor Feehan

By Conor Feehan

ARMED gardai flanked the funeral cortege of murdered dissident Larry ‘Bomber’ Keane today.

Associates of IRA sympathiser agreed not to fire a volley of shots over his coffin but the ceremony had all the other hallmarks of a paramilitary funeral.

Keane (56) was found seriously injured following an assault in a laneway between two housing estates in Athy on July 18. He had suffered head injuries and died despite efforts of gardai and the emergency services.

Keane was a notorious figure in the IRA and was sentenced to 15 years for what was believed to be a plot to bomb the Grand National in Aintree in 1998.

The sentence was reduced to 10 years on appeal.

Uniformed gardai, backed up by members of the Armed Support Unit and mounted units, were visible in the streets and outside Keane’s Athy home.

A number of cars were being searched on approach to the town.

Black flags hung from windows and lamp posts, and a tricolour was placed in the window of the house with the words ‘Oglaigh Larry Keane RIP’ written in red across the flag.

Outside in the rain a party waited for the remains of Keane to be brought from the house.

Wearing black, berets, ties, trousers, shoes and gloves, along with white shirts, they stood to attention as the coffin draped in the tricolour was brought out.

A beret and gloves adorned the coffin also which was walked to St Michael's parish church as a lone piper played.

Keane's body was released to his family this week and lay in repose in his son Laurence's house in Castlepark overnight where a family rosary was held.

The house is close to where Keane was attacked.

His remains were due to be buried in St Michael's new cemetery this afternoon.

Detectives kept a close eye on the event amid expectations that it would attract senior figures in the Real IRA. Members of the Divisional Crime Scene Investigation Unit also video recorded the funeral procession.

Members of the 32 County Sovereign Movement – known as the political wing of the IRA – held a demonstration in Athy last week after what they saw as delays in the release of Keane's body.

A spokesman for the group said a “full republican funeral” was being planned but that no volley of shots would be fired.

Gardai investigating Keane's murder arrested a 47-year-old man in the Athy area last Thursday. He was later released without charge.

Gardai are continuing to appeal for information about the assault that led to Keane's death.

Detectives do not believe there is any terrorist connection to the murder.

In December 1998, dad-of-six Keane from Cloney, Athy, Co Kildare, pleaded guilty to having 980lb of an improvised explosive mixture, a timer power unit, an electrical detonator, two improvised booster tubes and an improvised detonating cord with intent to endanger life at Dun Laoghaire port eight months earlier.

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