Dublin’s gangland in state of violent flux

Gardaí brace for backlash to ‘godfather’ murder, writes Cormac O’Keeffe

GARDAÍ are facing not just one, but two, power vacuums within Dublin’s gangland — and a backlash.

The leadership of the Real IRA in the capital has been in violent flux since the murder of boss Alan Ryan last September.

With the shooting of crime “godfather” Eamon Kelly on Tuesday, a power struggle will now ensue between gangs as to who takes over the position in Dublin.

And with a local Real IRA chief behind Kelly’s murder, criminal associates will likely seek revenge, further ratcheting up the feud between subversives and criminals.

Kelly, 65, had known he was in danger after he escaped an attempt on his life in Sept 2010, when an attacker’s gun jammed outside Kelly’s home on Furry Rd in Killester, Dublin.

But he never let it affect his daily life. He openly socialised in the Killester and Clontarf areas. He held regular meetings with criminal figures in the local pubs and frequented nearby bookies. He was often out walking his dog in the leafy middle-class area.

He was on such a walk at about 4pm on Tuesday when a Real IRA hit team pounced and fired three shots into his chest.

It ended his lengthy period as Dublin’s crime don.

“Kelly was a godfather of crime in Dublin and surrounding counties,” said one security source. “Very little happened without his nod. He kept a rein on things.”

He said Kelly was a “plotter” and “schemer” and had been behind most of the tiger kidnappings in the Leinster area in the past 10 years.

“He came up with the ideas and the information and supplied that to gangs.”

He said Kelly would use his extensive network of contacts to identify vulnerable individuals in companies, such as security cash firms and banks, and use that weakness, such as a gambling problem or addiction, to “compromise” them.

“He could have four to five jobs planned at a time and would be linked in with all the gangs.”

Kelly was very close with Martin “Marlo” Hyland, who ran a massive drug trafficking/robbery network based in Finglas. One of his proteges, Eamon Dunne, later took over the gang. Both men were murdered.

“Marlo was bumped off [in 2006]. That did not happen without his [Kelly’s] say so,” said the source. “The same with Dunne [in 2010]. He was a protege of Kelly, but he went off the rails, murdering people willy-nilly.”

Kelly was heavily connected with another north Dublin criminal, based in Spain but the biggest trafficker of drugs into Ireland, who authorised Dunne’s killing.

Kelly, along with a number of senior gangs, refused to pay extortion money to the Real IRA unit headed by Alan Ryan.

Two crime bosses, a 32-year-old drug importer from Donneycarney and a 45-year-old trafficker from Coolock, are thought to have combined resources to murder Ryan. Gardaí suspect Kelly probably gave the nod, which might have been why he was shot dead.

“The Ra [Real IRA] knew Kelly gave the OK, but he didn’t do it [the murder],” said a Garda source. “It was probably run past him OK.”

Gardaí now predict a battle within Dublin’s gangs for the Kelly’s position.

“There’ll be a power struggle between gangs now to see who will come out on top. It will have to be someone who is resident here, they can’t be in England or Spain: Someone who has the connections, the mob and the power. There’s not that many candidates out there.”

He said there was “no fear” of the Real IRA among Dublin criminals and predicted a “backlash” for Kelly’s murder.

For its part, the Real IRA, already a loose group of local cells, has been in disarray since Ryan’s murder, despite the greater presence of Northern members in the Republic. Detectives suspect the Real IRA figure arrested near the scene of Kelly’s murder may have been making a bid to take over effective leadership in Dublin. This 32-year-old’s base is in the Bluebell-Inchicore area of south-west Dublin.

“He’s a loose cannon like Ryan,” said one source. “He had very little connection with Ryan. This could be him and his crew asserting themselves, to say ‘we are the new ‘top dogs’.”


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