Media tipped off days before Regency hotel attack but gardaí deny having information

Six days before the horrific attack at the Regency Hotel, it was reported that senior criminals had flown to Dublin to attend boxing events.

Media tipped off days before Regency hotel attack but gardaí deny having information

Almost a week before David Byrne was shot dead in front of crowds attending the weigh-in, national media had been tipped off that members of the Kinahan gang had arrived in from Spain. It was suggested that tensions were high between various criminal cartels.

Last Friday as the six armed men — at least one dressed as a woman — arrived at the Regency Hotel in Drumcondra, a number of crime journalists and photographers were there to record the horrific daylight shooting.

But yesterday Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said gardaí did not have intelligence which would have justified having surveillance on the hotel.

It begs the question, if journalists knew that criminals were in the city and were due to attend the event, how did An Garda Síochána not have the same intelligence?

Fine Gael have always prided themselves on being the party of law and order.

In an interview with the Irish Examiner in December, Ms Fitzgerald reiterated this exact point.

But last Friday, all traces of law and order were decimated in a hotel on the north side of the city where homeless families are housed and where boxing fans had gathered.

The brazen shooting of Byrne, 33, has reignited the issue of crime and security in our State and has focused attention on a new wave of criminals who are willing to carry out such an unprecedented attack, showing little regard for human life and putting innocent lives at risk.

Ms Fitzgerald said there is no doubt as to who is to blame for the attack, laying blame on the “evil men who went into that hotel in broad daylight with AK47s”.

No matter how they try to deflect, this is a major blow for Fine Gael just weeks out from an election.

Questions have yet again been raised about the closure of garda stations across the country — including Whitehall station which was just metres away from where the shooting occurred.

Fianna Fáil’s justice spokesman Niall Collins claimed the response time by gardaí was “inadequate” due to a lack of resources.

Defending this, Ms Fitzgerald said the first gardaí had been dispatched to the scene within a minute, while all gardaí had been dispated within five minutes.

“I have spoken to the commissioner about that this morning and obviously what she said to me is that that was a decision that they took, it was an operational decision, they had no intelligence which they believed would have warranted their presence there.

“The harsh reality is that intelligence is not always available in relation to the commission of crime,” she said.

Taosieach Enda Kenny was yesterday quick to criticise Sinn Féin on their plans to abolish the Special Criminal Court, which many argue is more needed than ever following the latest murder.

Although some groups, including the Council for Civil Liberties, believe all citizens should be tried before a jury, our troubled past, the residual dissident threat and the dangers posed by serious organised crime mean it would still be premature to do away with such a court.

Yesterday Ms Fitzgerald announced that a second Special Criminal Court will be operational by April 4 and promised gardaí would be provided with all the resources needed to catch Mr Byrne’s killers.

Fine Gael have also committed to recruiting 1,800 additional gardaí if re-elected to power.

But they are the government who have closed 139 garda stations since 2011.

And it was under their watch that unmonitored gunmen shot another man dead surrounded by witnesses on Friday, and another yesterday.

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