Number of gangland murders increases fivefold this year

There has been a fivefold jump in gangland murders this year, according to Garda estimates.

The Kinahan-Hutch feud accounted for at least half of the 15 gang murders.

Before last week’s murder of Noel Kirwan in west Dublin, the feud had claimed seven lives so far, six of them at the hands of the Kinahan cartel.

If Mr Kirwan’s murder is linked to the cartel, as many suspect, it will bring their tally to seven and the feud total to eight.

Gardaí have previously estimated that they have prevented a further 12 assassination attempts, the bulk of them by the cartel.

Figures also show that a fifth of the estimated 127 murders linked to organised crime and dissident groups between 2006 and 2015 have been detected. Information provided by Garda HQ to Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald before Mr Kirwan’s murder estimated there were 14 “gang-related killings”, compared to three in 2015.

Together with Thursday’s murder, it brings the 2016 toll closer to levels in the mid- to late 2000s, which was one of the worst periods for gangland murders. They averaged 18 per year in that time, reaching a peak in 2009 of 22. They fell to single figures after that (except in 2012 at 14) and to three in 2015.

The three murders were among nine fatal shootings in 2015, but most have not been categorised by Garda HQ as relating to gang activity. The 15 murders this year include all 14 gun murders and, it is thought, a fatal stabbing.

The Kinahan-Hutch feud erupted in Ireland with the shooting dead of Kinahan lieutenant David Byrne at the Regency Hotel in February. That sparked six murders by the Kinahan cartel between February and June, including an innocent man, Martin O’Rourke. A second innocent man, Trevor O’Neill, was shot dead in Spain in August, in another botched attack.

Garda figures show that up to December 6 there have been 44 arrests over gang- related killings and that five people have been charged with those murders and another three people charged on related matters.

In addition, 22 firearms — including submachine guns and AK47s — have been seized. Garda investigations have involved more than 8,000 lines of inquiry, while 11,520 high-visibility checkpoints have been conducted, many in relation to Operation Hybrid targeting the Kinahan-Hutch feud.

On December 12 the Armed Support Unit for Dublin was launched. The 55-strong squad has multiple tasks, including operations in the north inner city and south-west Dublin aimed at preventing feud attacks.

This is in addition to the Special Crime Task Force, which investigates the criminal activities and the related wealth of middle and lower ranking members of the feuding gangs.

News: 6&7


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