By David Raleigh
The gardaí that smashed the Dundon gang were the “unsung heroes” of Limerick’s dramatic image transformation.
That's according to Limerick Fianna Fáil TD Willie O’Dea, who was speaking on the 10th anniversary of the shooting of innocent rugby player Shane Geoghegan which proved to be the tipping point in Limerick’s vicious gangland history which had threatened all-out anarchy between the late 1990s and late 2000s.
“The gardaí are the unsung heroes of the whole saga of Limerick’s gangland past. The detective branch who led the investigations have probably the best detection record of any police force in the world,” said Mr O’Dea.
“Their sources of information were superb, and their investigative abilities were second to none. They knew who to talk to and when to talk to them. They are absolutely priceless.”
Mr Geoghegan, a charismatic family man and rugby player with the famous Garryowen RFC, was walking home from his girlfriend’s house when he was chased and shot dead by hired hitman Barry Doyle, on November 9, 2008.
Recruited by the notorious Dundon gang to shoot an associate of rival Philip Collopy, Doyle mistook Mr Geoghegan for his intended target. It would quickly emerge John Dundon, one head of the Dundon crime gang, had ordered the hit.
Exactly five months later, on April 9, 2009, another innocent man, Roy Collins, was shot dead by a Dundon triggerman. The murders of the two innocent men were a catalyst for introducing important amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill, introduced in 2006 to tackle gangland crime.
These legislative updates beefed up the Bill, and provided for the use in criminal trials of material obtained during garda covert surveillance operations; further definitions of membership of a criminal organisation; making it an offence to direct gang activities; and creating a raft of new “scheduled offences” which brought gangland trials into the non-jury Special Criminal Court on a declaration that the ordinary courts were inadequate for the purpose of the effective administration of justice.
Retired Detective Garda Sean Lynch, now a Fianna Fáil Cllr, also praised his former garda colleagues, adding: “They never took the foot off the pedal. We had detectives with good experience and who were passionate about this great city and passionate about their work; and that’s why Limerick is the way it is today.”
Shane Geoghegan’s family attended a special match at Garryowen RFC last night, held by the club in memory of their fallen comrade and Third’s Team captain.
“No one has worn Shane’s ‘Number Three’ jersey since his death. It’s been permanently retired,” said club vice-chairperson Eoin Prendergast.
Shane’s brother Anthony is expected to present a portrait he painted of his slain sibling tonight at the match, which will be displayed in the clubhouse alongside a signed All Blacks jersey which the side had presented to the club in memory of the Garryowen man.