Heavily armed Garda units patrolling Dublin in wake of gangland shootings
New units of heavily armed Gardaí are on the streets of Dublin amid fears more death threats are circulating in a gangland feud which has claimed three lives.
In the north inner city, less than a mile from where the latest victim was gunned down on Monday night, one of the most high profile checkpoints was in place for several hours.
Eddie Hutch, aged in his 50s and a brother of Gerry Hutch, nicknamed The Monk, was shot dead in his home off Dublin’s North Strand in an apparent retaliation for the fatal gun attack at the Regency Hotel last Friday in which David Byrne from Crumlin in the south of the city was murdered.
Byrne’s death was in turn believed to be a reprisal for the killing of Gary Hutch, the first victim of the bloody feud when he was gunned down in Spain’s Costa del Sol last September.
On Seville Place, a short distance from Dublin’s financial district, four heavily armed officers from the Garda’s Emergency Response Unit, kitted out with protective eye wear, body armour and headgear, were backed up by at least 12 uniformed members and plain clothed armed detectives.
Cars, vans and cyclists were being stopped at random with people asked for identification and to explain their movements.
The checkpoint was one of several thrown up in locations where known gangsters live and associate in a direct response to the escalation in underworld murders which has seen the two retaliation killings in four days.
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said the security operation will be increased in the coming months when armed units are expanded and become a permanent fixture in some areas where organised crime is more of a threat.
“We will stand down this threat from these gangs,” the minister said
The actions mimic the approach taken to successfully crack down on drugs gangs which operated with near impunity in some disadvantaged estates in Limerick city in the 2000s and also to quell tensions in the Sheriff Street area of Dublin in recent years.
At least four masked men were involved in the Hutch murder just off North Strand on Dublin’s north side, with the BMW 3 Series used in the killing found abandoned a short distance away near Drumcondra.
His brother “The Monk” spoke out in 2008 when interviewed by RTÉ to admit he was a criminal, but denied he was a drug dealer or hitman. He insisted his money came from shrewd property deals.
The shooting followed the Regency Hotel attack, where Byrne was killed and two others were seriously injured by a six-strong gang, three of whom were armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles and dressed in Swat team uniforms and helmets.
A weigh-in for a boxing title fight promoted by Frank Warren and MGM Promotions, based in Marbella, was being held at the time.
In the immediate aftermath, Byrne’s murder was linked to a feud between major Irish organised crime outfits who operate between Dublin and the south of Spain, with speculation that it was a direct retaliation for the Hutch murder.
The concern now is that further reprisals will be carried out.