Grotesque display of bravado - Gang member’s funeral

A DOZEN limousines, outriders on Harley Davidson motorbikes, a remote-controlled toy BMW car, an €18,000 platinum coffin, horse-drawn carriages, and a lone piper.

The funeral on Monday of David Byrne was a grotesque display of wealth and bravado by the family and associates of the gang member and drug dealer who was murdered in broad daylight at the Regency Hotel in Dublin 12 days ago.

He was a major player in the cartel run by Christy Kinahan who is regarded as the biggest wholesaler of drugs for crime gangs in Ireland.

The hotel shooting, the funeral, and the reprisal shooting dead of Eddie Hutch three days later, followed the murder of Gary Hutch, nephew of crime figure Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch, in Spain last year and indicate an escalation of the feud between two ferocious rival gangs.

The tit-for-tat killings and Byrne’s high-profile funeral also offer a disturbing insight into the power and influence of Dublin’s gangland families who appear to operate almost without restraint both in Ireland and at their bases in Spain.

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan oversaw the security arrangements for Byrne’s funeral and will do likewise at the funeral of Eddie Hutch later this week.

One has passed off peacefully and, hopefully, so will the other, but the question remains why gardaí did not anticipate that there might be trouble at the Regency Hotel.

Commissioner O’Sullivan has said that there was “no specific intelligence” to suggest that anything criminal would occur there, let alone a murder. That seems an extraordinary admission, considering the hotel was awash with journalists and photographers who were well aware that members of the Kinahan gang would be present at the boxing event weigh-in.

Her insistence that “you cannot have members of the Garda going to every single event just because criminals may be there” is an unconvincing response to the failure to properly police the Regency event.

While it is true that gardaí cannot attend every event at which criminals may be present, it is equally true that they should, at least, be monitoring the activities of gangland criminals on a daily basis, if only to gather intelligence. A large gang gathering should have raised at least one red flag but, apparently, it didn’t.

It is little wonder, therefore, that a new study shows that two-thirds of people intimidated by drug dealers or threatened over drug debts do not report it to gardaí.

The CityWide Drugs Crisis Campaign said its research showed half of the incidents of intimidation involved beatings and violence; mothers of drug users make up a third of those targeted by dealers and gangsters.

Those working to help addicts and their families in Dublin warn that most of those who are harassed and abused try to deal with it themselves for fear of reprisal attacks if they go to the gardaí.

That, sadly, indicates they have more faith in the effectiveness of the gangsters to hurt them than they have in the gardaí to protect them.


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