Gerry O'Carroll: Treacherous Traynor and his motor mouth

Gerry O'Carroll

I'VE known John Traynor for more than 30 years and I am delighted to see that the net has closed in around this unsavoury character.

He is one of the last men standing from Martin Cahill's gang of the 1970s. He was one of Cahill's right-hand men back in the 'good old days', a person I always regarded as a slippery eel.

Traynor (aka the Coach is a treacherous man who always seemed to escape when others went down. Traynor's MO was to talk his way out of trouble. In fact, he couldn't stop talking at times, using his oily voice to get out of scrapes.

But despite his mouth, in a strange way the likes of Cahill looked up to Traynor. Traynor came from a respectable background in the pub trade and dog-racing circles.

Unlike Cahill's other mates he was not born into poverty, but he was always attracted to the darker side. He liked to be around the big boys and enjoyed their company.

But Traynor was more than a middle-class criminal slumming it. He could lead his own gangsters and gardai on a merry dance. A notorious killer, since passed on to his judgment, told me once that Traynor was the original Del Boy, always dabbling in backstreet car deals, and he ended up running a motor firm in the 1970s.

The hitman told me how one of Traynor's mechanics found a kilo of cannabis in the wheel of a car being serviced. Traynor went to John Gilligan with it. At the time Gilligan was a robber, but told Traynor to sell it and see how much it was worth. He did, and the rest is criminal history.

Traynor therefore had the dubious honour of being the man who started John Gilligan in the cannabis business, a drug Gilligan later imported en masse into the country. I also recall a shop run by Cahill in the 1970s as a fence for his stolen goods. The respectable face of John Traynor was used as the manager of the place, flogging contraband fags with bread and milk.

Traynor, being a gouger, naturally robbed the takings from the shop, unknown to The General. This led to Cahill putting a gun to his head in the car park of a Lucan hotel -- but again Traynor talked himself out of it.

A lot of old detectives will be smiling this morning, especially the murder team led by Tony Hickey, which busted the Gilligan gang in the wake of Veronica Guerin's killing.

It is widely believed that he set up Guerin when she was beaten up at one point.

On the morning she was shot dead it was suspected that he was passing on information to her murderers. He denied this, of course, and fled soon afterwards.

Despite repeated rumours of his return to the country on a number of occasions Traynor was never arrested. I always wondered about that.....