Shooting sparks fears of fresh gang bloodshed
Attention on Dundon daughter's 'Cinderella-style' Communion has driven isolated criminal Wayne to edge, writes Jim Cusack
Gardai are keeping not just Wayne Dundon but several other Limerick gang members under close surveillance.
They believe that a gun attack last Monday evening in which a man was injured could signal a re-ignition of gang feuding in the city. The victim, who received two gunshot wounds when fired on from a car in Cathedral Place, had survived a previous attempt on his life. He is recovering in hospital.
The fear is that the shooting may have been carried out by a gang based in and around the Moyross and Ballynanty areas, and which is thought to be associated with the Dundons. It appears that some previous alliances have splintered and that threats and accusations have been made over missing money -- and this, usually, leads to murder attempts. Again, the Dundons appear to be in the thick of it.
Recently, Dundon's gang --among others -- has begun stepping up its extortion rackets, demanding money with menaces in Limerick city, and extended this to members of the Travelling community around Rathkeale. This is believed to be a result of the downturn in the illegal drug trade, with the rise of the legal head shop drug market (until their proscription last week).
Wayne Dundon is currently isolated, with most of his associates in prison, and he remains a very high-profile target for a number of gangs who had previously been at the receiving end of Dundon's attacks.
He had been keeping a low profile, but bizarrely decided to make the event of his daughter's Holy Communion into a very public display by parading her in a 'Cinderella' carriage in the People's Park in the centre of the city, half a mile away from the family home in Ballinacurra Weston. The ostentation and evident expense of the affair, which was followed by a sit-down meal for about 50 members of the extended family, naturally attracted media attention.
Dundon denies that the cost -- put widely at €8,000 -- came from ill-gotten earnings, and says that the money for bringing the carriage and horses from Belfast and the food and drink was provided by his extended family.
A surprise guest at the Communion was Kenneth Dundon, 53, father of Wayne, John, Dessie and Gerard Dundon. He had just been released from a six-year prison sentence in England for killing his wife's lover, Christopher Jacobs, 50. On the night of October 8, 2003, after drinking 15 pints, a masked Kenneth Dundon stabbed Mr Jacobs in the face and throat. He earned his first conviction for assault in his native Limerick in 1974. He subsequently emigrated to London with his partner, Anne McCarthy, and they were married in 1982.
Further evidence of a plentiful supply of money is the fact that Wayne Dundon recently returned from a holiday in the Mexican resort of Cancun. After that, he is also understood to have made a brief trip to Britain -- even though he was deported from there by the Home Office back in 1997, when he was in his teens, because of attacks on the elderly.
At his 2005 trial for threatening the life of a barman in Limerick, evidence was given of his London offences. The court was told that he had thrown an elderly woman in a wheelchair down a flight of stairs, and had badly beaten another 75-year-old woman while stealing her pension book. The judge at his UK trial directed that Dundon be deported from Britain and it was at this point in 1997 that he and his three brothers moved from London to Limerick. People in Limerick say it was the arrival of the Dundons that set in train an escalation of murder and violence of an intensity never previously encountered in the city.
Since 2003, when the Dundon gang began to assert itself and try to take over the local drug trade, there have been at least 25 murders. The gang was believed responsible for murdering nightclub doorman Brian Fitzgerald, 34, in November 2002 after he refused to allow its dealers to
sell drugs in the club. This murder is now seen as the beginning of the reign of terror that the Dundons set out to inflict on Limerick.
The Dundons, who are settled Travellers, dragged their Limerick cousins, the McCarthys, into the feuding -- resulting in several of them being imprisoned. Anthony McCarthy, a cousin on the Dundons' mother's side, is said by local people to have been inadvertently caught up in the murder of Kieran Keane in 2003 and is now serving life imprisonment with his cousin, Dessie Dundon.
Wayne Dundon was released on March 19 last after serving just over five years' imprisonment for threatening to kill a member of staff at Brannigan's pub in Roxboro, owned by the Collins family, after he refused entry to Dundon's 14-year-old sister.
Twenty minutes after this refusal, a gunman wearing a motorcycle helmet walked into the pub and shot barman Ryan Lee, leaving him with permanent injuries.
Threats, including a recent and particularly vicious one made directly to a member of the Collins family, continue from figures associated with Wayne Dundon.
Limerick people have told the Sunday Independent that Dundon's claims that Steven Collins is intimidating him are nauseating in light of the continuing and real threats which have led to the gardai placing 24-hour protection on the Collins family -- with a contingent of 24 gardai dedicated to this one operation.
After the murder of Steve's son, Roy Collins, in April last year, Brannigan's was burned down. Steve Collins had to give up the adjoining Casino amusement arcade where Roy was murdered.
The Dundon gang was actively plotting to murder Mr Collins and dug a grave beside the railway line, near their heartland of Ballinacurra Weston, in preparation for abducting, murdering and secretly burying him or another member of the family. Three pipe bombs were thrown into the rear of the Collins family's remaining public house. The family business has been effectively ruined.
Even when thousands of people turned out to protest at the murder of Roy Collins last year, members of the Dundon gang drove past pretending to film the protesters.
Steve Collins described the people who had subjected his family to this litany of violence and intimidation as "scum, pond-life, crazy people" on Marian Finucane's programme last weekend. The interview, combined with the publicity over the Holy Communion party, apparently drove Dundon over the edge.
Mr Collins was questioned by gardai for three hours last Tuesday week at Henry Street Station after Wayne Dundon made a formal complaint that Mr Collins's comments about him on a TV3 documentary on crime in Limerick constituted a threat to his life.
Mr Collins denied this, but gardai are still preparing a file for the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The Mayor of Limerick, Kevin Kiely, told the Limerick Leader: "I think it's a disgrace and the law turned upside down. This man has been through enough. He has lost his son and had his stepson shot. Steve Collins had the courage and conviction to stand up to the criminals who did it and follow it through the court system. The gardai were only doing their job, but the system seems mad to me. I was told that if Steve hadn't made himself available, he would have been arrested."
In the aftermath of the publicity surrounding the Holy Communion affair, Dundon then turned his attentions on the Limerick Leader, walking into its offices last Tuesday to complain about its coverage of the Holy Communion affair.
He was met by editor Alan English. Dundon said the coverage of the party for his daughter was "unfair". He further denied having had anything to do with the murder of Roy Collins and pointedly refused to condemn the murder. "What's it to me? Why should I be sorry?" he said.
Roy Collins was shot dead by James Dillon, a young man who had been recruited by the Dundons to their gang only six months before the murder and who is now serving life imprisonment. When Alan English put this to Dundon, he replied: "I don't know. Ask James Dillon."
It was then that Dundon said he was "too afraid to leave my house" and made further accusations against Mr Collins. "I can't leave my house in case Steve Collins sees me and says I threatened him again. All he has to do is say that and I get another 10 years.
"Steve Collins doesn't like me. He's blaming me for killing his son. I've never been charged with anything. The trial is over. His son is dead 12 months, why is he still talking about me? I was in prison [when Roy Collins was shot]. It's nothing to do with me."
He said that as members of the Travelling community his family had come together for the Communion affair, as other Travellers would.
"All Travelling people do a big day for their children's Communion. It was on the TV last week. I'm a Traveller, my wife [Anne] is a Traveller. We didn't spend €8,000, like it says here," Dundon said.
"Ye've been writing about me for years and I never once complained. I'm fair game, I've been a bad person, I've done wrong things. Say what ye like about me. In for a penny, in for a pound. But my daughter was very upset. This has hit a nerve."
He even had some social commentary on Limerick's woes. The Leader article read: "Asked about his involvement in the drug scene that has caused untold destruction and heartbreak in Limerick, he said: 'Drugs? What drugs? They say all the problems are caused by drugs in this town. It's all lies. It's caused by social deprivation, people with no jobs.'"
Limerick, he said, "is one depressing little place. We've the highest suicide rate in Europe. Everybody's an alcoholic, everybody's on tablets. Ask yourself, why is that? Because it's depressing".
Mr Collins responded, saying Dundon's complaint to the gardai about him was "devilment". "I don't mind going through due process," Mr Collins said. "You have to let the gardai do their work. I'm happy to go along with that. Again, it's only devilment. He's just using the system."
Commenting on Dundon's other remarks to the Leader, he said: "He's using it for his gain, and it has backfired on him now. I'm outraged. He's caused so much hurt in everybody else's lives and he comes up with this. The sooner he moves away from here, the better. There's nothing left for him here now. He's hated by most people in this town."