Monday 19 February 2018

Where were gardai? – Lack of surveillance at hotel comes under fire

Hotel manager John Glynn outside the Regency Hotel in Whitehall, scene of the recent gangland murder
Hotel manager John Glynn outside the Regency Hotel in Whitehall, scene of the recent gangland murder

Deirdre Reynolds and Laura Larkin

A Dublin TD has hit out at the fact that gardai were not monitoring Friday's boxing weigh-in before it became the scene of Ireland's most shocking gangland attack.

Independent TD Finian McGrath told the Herald that the presence of some of the capital's most well-known criminals and the connection to the Kinahan cartel should have warranted an undercover surveillance operation.

"Resources were not put in place even though a lot of people at that weigh-in were serious players in Dublin's gangland and you would assume that there should have been undercover gardai watching them," he said.

"There should have been more hands-on direct policing at the venue. The Minister for Justice has to take responsibility for how garda resources are focused and distributed."

The murder at the Regency Hotel in Drumcondra, which saw a killing squad of six men open fire, took place at a weigh-in where it was expected gangster Daniel Kinahan would be in attendance.

The Dublin Bay North candidate, who sat on a sub-committee of the Department of Justice tasked with examining gangland crime, said that he suspected the lack of gardai in the area was down to a lack of resources.

"Quality policing should always contain covert operations and preventative measures. I'd put money on it that the issue was down to funding and resources," he said.

The van used by the killing squad was burned out near the TD's home and he said that many of his neighbours have been left shaken by the events.

"People have been asking me over the weekend why there wasn't something in place when all of those gangland players were there," McGrath said.


The murder was "horrific and brutal" he said, and had left the community in shock.

"The public are really annoyed that these horrific events took place in a hotel we all use - it's a popular venue for charity events and lots of my constituents use the gym there regularly," he added.

Meanwhile, the operators of Ireland's 999 emergency line have defended the fact that several panicked calls from the besieged hotel went unanswered.

James McGettigan, owner of the hotel, revealed that he was forced to call a detective friend when three calls to 999 were not picked up as the gunmen stormed his premises.

The businessman - who witnessed the assassination through a window - said that he eventually got through.

"I told the man what had happened. He said he would have to put me through to the Dublin division. But that kept ringing and ringing," he said.

"The man said they'll answer it any second now. Eventually, I just hung up. It could have been 25 seconds on the phone but it felt like two minutes."

Manager of the hotel John Glynn said that he contacted a detective friend he knew as well.

"When they were out of sight, I rang a detective inspector. He actually didn't believe me. I said: 'There's after being a horrific incident here in the hotel, three armed guys dressed as guards are after shooting a person right in front of me, who seems to be dead, and other people are badly injured'.

"He said 'are you being serious? Hang up and I'll start making the calls'."

BT Ireland, who were in the headlines last week over threatened industrial reaction by operators, said that staff responded in line with emergency procedures.

"The Emergency Call Answering Service (ECAS) received a surge in calls from different callers at the same incident on Friday.

"Initial calls were answered immediately and passed to the requested emergency service which responded accordingly.

"At the peak, a small number of calls went into a queue for a matter of seconds," a spokesperson said.

Minister Frances Fitzgerald said that the response to the emergency was swift.

"Gardai were inundated with calls by many members of the public who reported it," she said.

"I can tell you that the first car was despatched within 30 seconds and other cars were despatched very shortly afterwards from Santry and Ballymun."

But Ms Fitzgerald said she could not comment on reports that there were no gardai present during the weigh-in - despite the possibility for trouble.

"That's an operational matter," she said.


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