Gardaí have described as “very significant” the arrest of a man in connection with the murder of Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe in a botched robbery in rural Co Louth over eight years ago.
The man, long identified as a key suspect, is the third person to be arrested in relation to the fatal shooting of the detective at Lordship Credit Union on January 25, 2013.
The arrest of the 32-year-old, who lives near Ravensdale, north of Dundalk, comes over two years after the previous arrests. Sources believe he will not be the last.
Charges have been brought against one member of the five-person gang involved in the robbery to date. Aaron Brady, from Crossmaglen, Co Armagh, was sentenced to 40 years last October for the capital murder of Det Garda Donohoe.
That sentence came after what was the longest criminal trial in Ireland’s history.
Det Garda Donohoe, a father of two, was shot in the head, as soon as he exited his car, by Brady. The shooting was described by trial judge Mr Justice Michael White as giving the garda “no chance”.
Brady, along with a man known to two brothers, also key suspects in the murder investigation, were arrested in February 2018.
The latest arrest was described by various sources as “very significant” and one which the investigating team based in Dundalk have been working a long time towards.
“To get it to this stage of making the arrest is huge,” said one source. “He will be questioned at length on aspects of his involvement and the evidence put to him and we'll see how it pans out.”
The man was arrested for murder with a firearm in relation to the capital murder and detained under section 50 of the Criminal Justice Act 2007.
This allows for a maximum period of seven days in detention, on foot of two applications to the courts.
Gardaí made use of the full detention period in their questioning of Brady and sources expect the latest arrest will continue at least for a few days, if not longer.
Sources said that although one person fired the shot that killed Det Garda Donohoe, all five were part of a “joint enterprise” and that possible charges could include murder or conspiracy to murder.
Brady fled to the US shortly after the murder. He was extradited back to Ireland in 2017 after overstaying his US visa following an investigation involving US Homeland Security, other agencies, and gardaí.
Two other members of the gang, brothers, also moved to the US. One of them has returned to the North after someone known to him was extradited back to Ireland on a separate matter. His brother remains in the US.
Garda sources said they were “committed to getting them all” before the courts, but they caution it is up to the DPP to determine if there is sufficient evidence to support a prosecution.
Separate to the murder probe, seven people, including Brady, have been arrested in an investigation into intimidation of witnesses in the murder trial.
That inquiry, conducted by the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, has not yet resulted in any charges, but sources suspect there will be.