Top drugs baron dies in a hail of bullets
By MARTINA DEVLIN
Monday May 10 1999
A LEADING drugs baron died in a hail of bullets yesterday as he enjoyed a lunchtime drink. There was speculation that his death had been ordered by rivals. A LEADING drugs baron died in a hail of bullets yesterday as he enjoyed a lunchtime drink. There was speculation that his death had been ordered by rivals.
Around 60 people looked on as two disguised men walked calmly into Newry's Hermitage Bar, produced handguns and singled out Brendan `Speedy' Fegan, then shot him at close range in the head and chest.
Fegan, 24, visiting his home town despite death threats and warnings to stay away, slumped against the counter and is believed to have died instantly. He was pronounced dead at Daisy Hill Hospital shortly after the 1.30pm killing.
A vicious internal gangland feud was last night widely thought to be behind the killing, although Fegan's last words were described as: ``It was the Provies, it was the Provies.''
Eyewitness Sean Paul White said: ``I heard two shots, then people were running out screaming and blood all over them and all I heard was `Speedy's been shot'.
``A friend of mine came out and told me two men in disguise came in and just shot him. Within five minutes the ambulance came and by this time he was dead.''
Despite his youth, Fegan was regarded as a leading figure in lucrative cross-Border drug trafficking operations. He had connections with major Dublin criminals and is thought to have been earning £20,000 a week buying drugs in the Republic and selling them in the North.
The drug dealer's killers wore wigs and moustaches when they walked into the pub. Eye witness accounts vary only 10 have so far come forward in the wake of the shooting but one report said between five and seven shots were fired.
Fegan survived a number of assassination attempts and was shot in the chest recently in Belfast by loyalists. Fearing for his life, he fled to England from the hospital where he was being treated and took to wearing body armour. It is understood the loyalists lost a substantial consignment of drugs recently to the Garda.
But Fegan had many enemies and his links with loyalist drug bandits are seen as a major factor which could have influenced republican connections to assassinate him.
The drug dealer is also thought to have been implicated in the £850,000 drugs haul intercepted by gardai on its way North at Balbriggan last Friday. One theory is that this bungled operation may have cost him is life.
His Dublin gangland connection led to his arrest by gardai investigating the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin. He was questioned particularly about a major drug distribution centre at Greenmount Industrial estate in Dublin's Walkinstown. This was run by Gilligan gang members including Paul Ward, Russell Warren and Charlie Bowden and both drugs and guns were stored there.
- MARTINA DEVLIN