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Organised crime behind a quarter of all murders

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Eoin O’Connor and Anthony Keegan (inset), whose bodies were found on Lough Sheelin

Eoin O’Connor and Anthony Keegan (inset), whose bodies were found on Lough Sheelin

Eoin O’Connor and Anthony Keegan (inset), whose bodies were found on Lough Sheelin

A QUARTER of the murders committed so far this year have been linked to organised crime.

The connection emerged last night as the latest official figures showed a rise of 26pc in the murder toll from January to May, compared to the corresponding period in 2013.

The total jumped from 19 to 24 – with 15 of the murders carried out in the Dublin region, while there were five in the Eastern, and two each in the South East and Northern regions.

The statistics reveal that almost two-thirds of the murders, or 63pc, have been detected by gardai.

Firearms, including a machine gun, were used in 10 of the murders while knives were responsible for seven deaths, and the rest were caused by physical violence or beatings with weapons.

The victims of organised crime gangs include "inseparable" friends Eoin O'Connor (32) and Anthony Keegan (33), whose bodies were discovered last week on an island in Lough Sheelin after extensive searches since their disappearance in April. Both men had been shot.

Other gangland linked murders included the shooting of Christopher 'Git' Zambra, who was on his way to visit his sister in Drimnagh, south Dublin, last month.

And Stephen 'Dougie' Moran, a bodyguard for notorious criminal John Gilligan, was shot in Lucan, west Dublin in March.

The increase in murders is a cause of concern for gardai as the overall crime figures showed a fall in 11 of the 14 categories over a year.

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