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Tuesday 10 December 2019

Sinister silence protects Cork's gangland killers

Six killings have taken place in the Cork underworld in the last 19 years, but there hasn't been a single prosecution as a vow of 'omerta' frustrates detectives

A garda spokesman said the mother informed them she was aware that two friends were calling to see her baby
A garda spokesman said the mother informed them she was aware that two friends were calling to see her baby

Ralph Riegel

An UNDERWORLD code of silence surrounding unsolved gangland killings in Cork was highlighted at a court hearing last week after Dean Crinnion (21), the son of the victim of the city's first gangland 'hit', was jailed for eight years for manslaughter. Crinnion was just two when his father was gunned down on a busy city centre street.

Crinnion stabbed and killed grandfather Gerald 'Ger' Delaney during a drunken St Stephen's Day confrontation in 2011 linked to an ongoing feud between the two families.

The feud, which was sparked by a row between two young Crinnion and Delaney men over a girlfriend, is totally unrelated to any gangland killing. However, the feud had resulted in a number of attacks, one involving machetes and slash hooks, as well as campaigns of intimidation and harassment.

Just before he was sentenced, Crinnion issued an appeal for peace between the two feuding families.

Perhaps few people understand better than Crinnion the terrible cost of violence for the loved ones left behind. And the ongoing consequences of murders left unsolved.

Crinnion tried to avoid getting drawn into the feud, taking part in garda diversion programmes aimed at helping vulnerable youngsters and getting involved in sports.

His first real involvement in his family's feud was that December 26/27 night in 2011 when he stabbed Ger Delaney multiple times.

He told the court that act of violence had left his "life in ruins."

Crinnion has himself experienced more than his share of tragedy in his short life. He was just two when his father, Michael Crinnion, was gunned down in the first gangland-style killing in Cork. Michael Crinnion was a feared underworld figure closely associated with one of Cork's drug gangs.

He stepped outside the Clannad Bar in Barrack Street in April 1995 to take a phone call but a gunman was waiting for him.

No one was ever charged and detectives suspect the killing was 'contracted out' to a Dublin hitman.

After the killing, Crinnion became close to his uncle, Kieran O'Flynn, who was a brother-in-law to his late father.

But six years later the cycle of violence repeated itself.

O'Flynn (39) lived at Thorndale off Dublin Hill on the opposite side of the city to the Crinnions.

On June 7, 2001, a masked gunman went to the house and shot Mr O'Flynn as he answered the door. He was shot twice through the door and then once more as he lay dying in the hallway.

Dean was just 10 when he attended his family's second violence-linked funeral.

As with the killing of his father, gardai launched a huge manhunt which, over the years, resulted in almost 80 arrests but, again, no charges.

The case has become even more complex amid new theories that, far from being a killing linked to a rival gang, O'Flynn's murder may have involved the Real IRA.

This theory emerged in January 2010 when, in an unrelated case, Gerard 'Topper' Staunton was killed outside his Wilton home on Cork's southside.

Staunton was killed with a single shotgun blast as he walked with his partner and their two children towards their home. The Real IRA later claimed responsibility.

Gardai have examined whether there may have been a dissident Republican involvement in the O'Flynn killing.

In 2010, the Real IRA issued a death list of individuals who it claimed were involved in the Cork drugs trade.

However, Cork's other three gangland killings are all believed to be the work of rival gangs.

In August 2005, Eric Cummins (31) was shot and killed as he walked towards his Ballincollig home with his infant son in his arms. The little boy left trapped under his dying father's body.

An inquest into Cummins' death took place in June 2011 after the DPP concluded there was no possibility of charges being brought.

David 'Boogie' Brett (33) was shot and killed in May 2007 after being lured to a remote spot in Foilogohig, five kilometres from Ballydesmond.

Gardai believe Brett, a father-of-three who had served a prison sentence for drug dealing, was lured to the spot by drug associates and then shot following a dispute about money, possibly up to €100,000.

Limerick and Dublin criminals were suspected of being involved but no-one was ever charged.

In August 2011, Darren Falsey (37) was shot dead at his Carrigaline home in south Cork just moments after his partner left the property to go on an errand.

In an eerie similarity to O'Flynn's killing, the gunman shot Falsey twice as he opened the door.

Falsey then tried to flee as he realised the deadly peril he was in, but the killer stepped into the hallway and shot Falsey a third time in the upper body.

Sunday Independent

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