The victim, Noel ‘Duck Egg’ Kirwan, was involved in protection rackets and robberies in the ‘80s and ‘90s.
He was also involved in various anti-drug campaigns during those periods, and was considered both a “heavy” and a “charmer” by some local activists who knew him well.
He would have known Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch since their childhood in the north inner city.
His murder is the 14th gangland gun killing this year. If linked to the Kinahan gang, it would bring to 11 the estimated number of feud killings since September 2015 — all but one at the hands of the cartel.
Mr Kirwan and his partner had just driven into her driveway at St Ronan’s Drive in north Clondalkin shortly after 5pm when a lone gunman approached their car and shot him several times in the head.
The gunman was then driven away in a white Peugeot Partner van, registration 10 CE 9834, which was later found burnt out at nearby Neilstown Shopping Centre. A gun was found at the scene.
Mr Kirwan’s body remained at the scene and gardaí from Ronanstown sealed off the area pending the arrival of the State Pathologist and the Technical Bureau.
Garda sources said it was “early days” in their investigation but said a “strong line of inquiry” will be the Kinahan cartel.
“He would have been involved with the Hutches years ago,” said one senior garda source. “He may have been still around, dabbling away, but nothing heavy.” The garda source said they would examine if any current criminal activity could have sparked the murder.
Sources said Kirwan had not been considered as being on a list of potential targets of the Kinahan cartel because of his relationship with Gerry Hutch.
One source said that it may be similar to the murder of Noel Duggan, a 55-year-old friend and associate of The Monk, shot dead by Kinahan gunmen at his home in Co Meath last March, who was seen as a “soft target”.
He said that if Mr Kirwan was shot for his association with The Monk, it highlighted how wide the Kinahan cartel had thrown the net of possible targets.
“If he was shot because of that link, they are really scraping the barrel, unless there is another reason. They’ll start shooting people on the basis they went to school with The Monk soon.”
A Kinahan link to Kirwan’s murder would end a lull in the feud, with the last murder in Ireland in July and in Spain last August.
“We have managed to keep a lid on things, but it’s a law of diminishing returns, there would be a murder eventually,” said a garda source. “It’s a war, not a war of attrition because all the killings are on one side, but a war nonetheless, that could go on for years.”
A community source in the north inner city said Kirwan was part of a large well-known and liked family in the area.
In his youth, he was part of a gang known as the ‘Duck Eggs’, hence his nickname.
The source said Kirwan would have known Gerry Hutch growing up, before they both got heavily involved in crime.
“We knew he was a bit shady. He was a tough guy, he was strong and physical. He came from a big family, lovely people. He was nice himself, a charmer, as well as being a heavy.”