A massive five-day security operation is set to begin this evening for the funeral next Monday of gangland victim David Byrne.
The move comes after it emerged the Government’s high-profile new armed emergency response unit will not be in place for six months and as the Irish Examiner obtained footage of the scenes before gardaí arrived following Mr Byrne’s murder, showing the assassins escaping.
The remains of Mr Byrne were released to undertakers yesterday and are due to be brought to the family home in Crumlin, south Dublin, either this evening or early tomorrow morning.
The 33-year-old criminal will be waked in his parents’ house at Raleigh Square over the entire weekend for funeral mass at 12.30pm on Monday.
Gardaí are concerned at the length of time the body will be waked in the family home — increasing the risk of attacks. Garda intelligence shows a large number of criminals — including senior members of the Kinahan crime cartel — have been visiting the home since Byrne’s murder last Friday.
Officers believe this will intensify significantly over the weekend as people pay their respects, posing significant security challenges.
Gardaí are braced for reprisals for the shooting dead of Eddie Hutch Snr in the north inner city on Monday night — a suspected revenge attack for Mr Byrne’s death at the Regency Hotel. Separate plans will be drawn up for the funeral of Mr Hutch, a 58-year-old brother of Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch, next week. The development comes after it emerged that the Government’s new Regional Support Unit for Dublin will not be in place for six months.
Meanwhile, the Irish Examiner last night obtained eyewitness footage of the scenes moments after Mr Byrne was shot at the hotel last Friday, detailing what happened before gardaí arrived. A one-minute video taken on a mobile phone shows Mr Byrne’s bloodied body lying beside the counter of the hotel before shocked bystanders go outside and see a silver van slowly driving away.
“There’s no way they’re guards,” one local is heard to say, while another shouts “they’re not cops, jeez, look at that young fella, they’re not guards”.
The person videoing the scenes then zooms in on the van saying “they’re trying to get out down there”, believed to be a reference to the hotel gates. The situation is likely to lead to questions about why it took gardaí so long to arrive.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Joan Burton yesterday expressed full confidence in Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan, with the Fine Gael leader saying that he hoped the high-visibility policing would “yield results”.
However, Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Niall Collins claimed the plans are just “repackaged” and involve taking gardaí from other areas.
The Irish Examiner reported yesterday that more than 40 members of four linked gangs, all part of the wider Kinahan cartel, were being subjected to “in-your-face policing” in the Crumlin, Drimnagh, and south inner city areas.
This includes the use of stop and search powers on the suspects and the setting up of checkpoints outside their homes.
A detailed policing plan for the Byrne funeral period is being drafted by senior officers in two neighbouring garda districts — the ‘G’ District which covers Crumlin and Drimnagh, and the ‘A’ District covering the south west inner city.
This is because the funeral Mass is taking place across the Grand Canal at St Nicholas of Myra Church on Francis Street.
Gardaí in Crumlin are expected to mount cordons around the Byrne family home from tonight, with perimeters of checkpoints and armed patrols, in what is a built-up area.
“We'll have checkpoints, the ERU and SDU and we'll have undercover people in position at certain locations, stop certain people from moving and prevent any attack,” said a source.
For the funeral, gardai will have to strike a balance to giving the family the dignity for the occasion, but ensure there is no risk to public safety.
“Traditionally there is a certain respect for funerals, but given that the reprisal for Byrne's murder was so quick, and was a Hutch family member, you don't know.”
Gardaí will also be on high alert for the functions after the funeral, the location of which are not yet known.
Attention will then turn to the funeral of Mr Hutch, part of a well known family in the north inner city.
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