Wednesday 22 November 2017

If gangs are determined to kill, they will - O'Sullivan

Fitzgerald is under pressure over murders

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan during a media briefing at the Garda Headquarters, Phoenix Park, in relation to the recent shootings in Dublin
Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan during a media briefing at the Garda Headquarters, Phoenix Park, in relation to the recent shootings in Dublin
Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan speaks to the media at Garda HQ yesterday. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Gardaí at the scene of the killing of Eddie Hutch Snr on Poplar Row in Dublin yesterday. Photo: Kyran O'Brien

Adam Cullen, Paul Williams and Ken Foy

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan has warned that criminals determined to carry out murder will do so if they have the intent.

As pressure mounted on Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald and the commissioner over two gangland killings in four days, Ms O'Sullivan maintained she cannot have officers at every single event just because criminals may be there.

She said that as far as gardaí were concerned, the boxing weigh-in at the Regency Hotel last Friday was merely a sporting occasion.

"There was no specific intelligence indicating any threat last Friday at the Regency Hotel," said the commissioner.

"I think it's also important to say that gardaí are deployed on intelligence and risk assessment.

"We also have to be very careful how we divide hours of an Garda Síochána.

"Last Friday was a sporting event and we cannot have members of An Garda Síochána going to every single event just because criminals may be there.

"If there was intelligence in place, there would have been a policing and strategy plan in place."

Convicted criminal David Byrne - a nephew of 'Fat' Freddie Thompson and a member of the international drugs cartel run by Christy Kinahan - was shot dead when six armed men stormed the north Dublin hotel on Friday afternoon during a boxing weigh-in.

On Monday night, taxi driver Eddie Hutch Senior, a brother of veteran crime boss Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch, was gunned down at his home on Poplar Row in Dublin's north inner city in retaliation.

"Unfortunately, the reality is that it's very difficult to prevent every single crime and what we attempt to do is mitigate these crimes as best we can," the commissioner said about the Hutch killing. "Sometimes people are determined to carry out a terrible atrocity or a murder such as happened [on Monday] if they have the intent and will to do it."

The Garda Commissioner said gardaí are liaising with Spanish police as part of their investigations into Dublin's bitter gangland feud.

Heavily armed members of the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) patrolled streets in the north and south inner city all day yesterday.

Gardaí were last night searching for a close associate of drug dealer Gary Hutch - murdered last September in Spain by the Kinahan gang - who has been identified as one of the hitmen who stormed the Regency Hotel.

The suspect - who is in his 20s and is from the north inner-city - dressed in drag during the audacious attack while the hotel was packed with innocent bystanders.

It has also emerged that 'The Monk' is back in Dublin, but keeping an extremely low profile.

The fact that Hutch has returned to the capital from his home in Lanzarote has increased tensions in the murderous feud between associates of his nephew Gary and the Christy Kinahan cartel.

It is believed the 52-year-old was in Dublin when his older brother Eddie (59) was shot dead at his home in Poplar Row in the north inner city on Monday evening.

He is understood to be completely shocked about the death of his brother, who was considered a "soft target".

"Eddie was killed to get at his brother. It is simple as that. That man had no involvement in organised crime and his killers knew that" a source told the Irish Independent last night.

A massive investigation into the murder is being carried out by Mountjoy gardaí and specialist Garda units who are attempting to identify the four-man hit team who were involved in the ruthless shooting.

Assistant Commissioner Jack Nolan would not state if any member of the Hutch family was advised if their life was in danger prior to the shooting of Eddie Hutch Snr.

"That's not an avenue I'd like to go down at this point in time," said Mr Nolan said last night.

He added that gardaí "had no specific intelligence" that Eddie Hutch was at risk.

Four men arrived at Poplar Row in a Silver 3 Series BMW, bearing the registration number 06-G-8965.

The car was abandoned on St Patrick's Parade, Drumcondra, and gardaí believe these men got into either a dark-coloured Isuzu 4x4 vehicle or a Toyota Landcruiser and drove on to Lindsay Road.

A small black car, possibly a Peugeot or Renault, was also seen in the area of Poplar Row at the time of the shooting.

Sources say gardaí are probing a number of possible suspects for the murder of the taxi man, including Cabra-based criminals who are suspected of the gun murder of Darren Kearns in late December.

Also being investigated is a notorious hitman who twice tried to murder exiled crime lord John Gilligan.

Yesterday, it emerged that just hours after Mr Hutch was murdered, gardaí arrested 'Fat' Freddie Thompson and his cousin Liam Roe after a short car chase that started in the Crumlin area and ended in Cork Street.

Thompson had his clothes seized by gardaí after they observed blood on his tracksuit and runners.

Irish Independent

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