Sunday, 28 October 2007

Just one in 20 gangland gun murders end in a conviction

Sunday Tribune

Mick McCaffrey
THE chance of a successful prosecution for the gangland murder of John Daly is highly unlikely, with a Sunday Tribune analysis showing that just 5% of fatal gangland shootings result in convictions.
Since 1998, there have been 92 murders that can be attributed to gangland feuds or had their origins in gang activity.
Only five of these cases have resulted in the perpetrator being convicted and gardai say it is highly unlikely the vast majority of outstanding murders will ever be solved.
Of the 141 people who have lost their lives to gun murder in Ireland over the last 10 years, just 14% of cases have resulted in convictions in court.
Gardai say they are being hampered by the unwillingness of witnesses to come forward and the lack of officers to proactively target gangland criminals.
There were 27 gun murders in Ireland last year, but only five prosecutions have been brought. Of the 17 gun murders so far in 2007, murder proceedings have been initiated in just one case. There were 21 fatal shootings in 2005 but just two convictions.
Only 40 gun murders have come before the Irish courts since 1998, with 21 convictions following, leaving a success rate of just over 50%. Many of the prosecutions that did succeed involved domestic or personal disputes, but it is in the area of gangland murders that gardai are really struggling to increase detection rates.
Of all the gangland slayings in the last 10 years, only the murders of Eddie Ryan, Kieran Keane, Brian Fitzgerald, Jason Tolan and Jonathan O'Reilly have resulted in convictions. In most of the other 87 cases, detectives believe they know who pulled the trigger, and why, but are powerless to bring prosecutions because criminals are forensically aware and destroy any evidence linking them to the crime scene.
There also exists a strict law of 'Omerta' in gangland, with criminals reluctant to go to gardai about the activities of their rivals. They instead choose to carry out revenge attacks, leading to cycles of murders like those seen in Crumlin and Limerick, where long-running gang feuds show little sign of ever ending. Independent witnesses are also often unwilling to go to the authorities with information because they fear threats and intimidation.
In the recent murder case involving Karl Breen, who stabbed his friend during a new year's eve party in a Dublin hotel, the main prosecution witness was forced to flee to Spain after being told he would be murdered if he gave evidence in court.
Meanwhile, the state's witness protection programme has been a total failure because of the unwillingness of anybody to participate in it. Under this programme, people who agree to testify in high-profile cases are given new identities and relocated abroad. But ordinary people do not want to see their lives permanently turned upside down and the programme has been almost totally shunned, except for a few criminals who have used it for their own ends.
The widespread availability of cheap firearms has also resulted in disputes now being settled with bullets instead of fists, as would have happened 15 years ago, so the murder rate is increasing rapidly. Most gangland killings happen because of drugs, and the huge sums of cash that can be accumulated from the drugs trade are making gang members only too willing to carry out killings.
Gardai say that, besides putting more officers on the streets and in specialist units to combat gang crime, there is little that can be done to reduce the current trend. One initiative that could work is using the non-jury Special Criminal Court in gangland trials, as suggested by Bertie Ahern last week. Most ordinary officers are in favour of this because they are frustrated the previous convictions of suspects and other intelligence cannot be raised in jury trials.
Informed sources say if the word of a senior garda was accepted against well-known criminals, it would go a long way towards addressing the current imbalance that exists between gun murders and convictions.
October 28, 2007

Inefficiency and lack of vision mean gang deaths go unsolved

Inefficiency and lack of vision mean gang deaths go unsolved
The very public execution of John Daly last week brings the murder toll relating to gangs in Finglas to 49 -- and all but a handful remain unsolved, writes Jim Cusack

By Jim Cusack

Sunday October 28 2007

One of the most frequent sights on RTE's recent news coverage is of its crime correspondent, Paul Reynolds, standing in a suburban working-class estate reporting details of the latest gangland slaying in Dublin.

Paul is by now familiar with the route from Montrose or his home to Ratoath Drive or Cloonlara Drive in Finglas, where the latest victim met his end. Increasingly, Paul's reports end with the observation that, given the Garda track record, there is little prospect of the latest murder being solved.

He is absolutely correct. A tally of gangland killings in or emanating from gangs in Finglas over the past decade shows that there were 49 murders, only three of which have gone to court. Figures released by the gardai a few weeks ago give a total of around 240 unsolved murders in the same period, most of them gun killings.

If it wasn't for the fact that John Daly previously made national headlines by phoning Joe Duffy on Liveline from his cell in Portlaoise prison, his death would have barely merited more than a few lines on RTE and inside-page reports in newspapers.

Daly's murder had been widely predicted since his release from prison only a few months ago. The entire criminal fraternity was angry with him for bringing attention to the use of mobile phones by prisoners, and the ensuing big sweep which led to almost 2,000 being seized from inmates. He was a particularly dumb criminal with a knack for making enemies both within and outside prison.

One of the main suspects in his murder -- a Dublin detective quipped last week that they had narrowed the list down to "around 2,000 suspects" -- is the current drug boss in Finglas, a 27-year-old who rose to prominence this year following the murder of gang leader Martin "Marlo" Hyland last December.

Finglas, along with several other working-class areas of Dublin and Limerick, has been on a downward spiral of gang violence since the mid-1990s. Gang bosses are assuming power younger and also dying younger than ever before. They are so young and inconsequential that they no longer even merit newspaper nicknames.

The criminal assets legislation introduced after the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin has meant that they can't enjoy splashing out and profile building with the cash they are amassing from drug sales. They live in anonymous suburbs, often a bit away from their home turf, in modest private developments on the outskirts of the city and holiday in Spain -- where they might own nondescript "villas".

Ten years ago it would have been unheard of for someone to claim to be a "crime boss" at the age of 27. The Penguins, Generals and Monks of that era were substantial figures who spent their money in style, seeking social advancement and paying for private education for their children so they wouldn't suffer the social deprivation and lack of schooling their parents had endured.

Finglas's first major drug gang was led by Peter Judge, who was 41 when he was shot dead by the IRA as he sat in his car outside the Royal Oak pub on December 7, 1996. Judge had earned himself the newspaper soubriquet "Psycho" due to his gruesome murder of a local small-time criminal, Jock Corbally, over a small debt.

In that period, post the first ceasefire in the North, the IRA leadership had decided to keep its volunteers busy by ordering the execution of known drug dealers in Dublin and Belfast. Around 30 were assassinated -- including at least five in Finglas, where they also murdered the main heroin supplier, Joseph Foran, in February 2000. The policy was politically motivated. It made the IRA and its rising political wing, Sinn Fein, popular in working-class areas like Finglas beset by drugs and crime. The subsequent election successes with two TDs and 13 Sinn Fein councillors in Dublin was due, in part, to this policy.

However, the IRA murder spree had side effects that were to change and worsen organised crime in Dublin. The disruption of the main gangs led by older, wiser criminals paved the way for the emergence of younger and wilder gangs.

It also led to the complete corruption of the IRA itself, whose Dublin members began selectively killing some dealers and taking protection money from others. Some men who had been in the Concerned Parents Against Drugs (CPAD) marches were now hand-in-glove with the drug traffickers. Recently, some former CPAD members have actually become traffickers. The public awareness and disgust over this decline into drug dealing by IRA figures in Dublin partly explains Sinn Fein's recent decline in popularity.

Following the executions of Judge and Foran and a number of their associates in Finglas, the way was open for the rise of Shane Coates and Stephen Sugg and their gang, known as "The Westies". Coates and Sugg had been in the Garda's sights since their teenage years as a pair of wild young thieves who had aspirations and a taste for violence.

Their first move up the drug- dealing tree was to murder 43-year-old dealer Pascal Boland, whom they shot dead at his home in Mulhuddart in January 2002. They became bigger and bolder, at one point controlling almost half the heroin supply in Dublin. When they were cornered in a shoot-out with gardai in Co Meath at the end of 2003 and had to flee the country, Dublin experienced one of the worst heroin droughts in years. Garda attrition wore the Westies down and the gang disin-

tegrated. Coates, 31, and Sugg, still only 27, were eventually deposed. Their escape to Spain was not enough to save them. Their bodies were found buried under a concrete slab in January 2004.

The murders of Sugg and Coates brought another round of bloodletting as a number of gangs vied for supremacy in Finglas. Around 20 murders have taken place in or around Finglas since their deaths, including another in Spain. No single big gang has emerged in the area since; rather, three medium-sized gangs: one a gang of ATM robbers led by the 27-year-old suspected of murdering John Daly; and the other led by Marlo Hyland until his murder last December along with the innocent 20-year-old apprentice plumber, Anthony Campbell.

According to local sources, there is an inherent instability in the current situation. Hyland's gang has broken up and had to make way for the other two, currently major gangs, but the gangland scene in Finglas and its neighbouring working-class suburbs from Coolock to Blanchardstown is dangerously fractured. Alliances have been formed by gang leaders during time spent in prison, with outside gangs including those from Limerick, who have brought their own brand of madness to the Dublin scene.

The murder of John Daly has yet again highlighted the inefficiencies and lack of vision in tackling crime here.

There are fewer gardai working in the "K" district -- which covers Finglas, Blanchardstown and Cabra -- than there were 20 years ago. The "K" is only one troubled part of the Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR) West, which stretches from Coolock and Blanchardstown in the north and north-west to Ballyfermot in the south and as far out as Rathcoole in the west. This division has only one chief superintendent, the recently appointed John Twomey, one detective superintendent, Hubert Collins and one uniformed superintendent, Hugh Hartnett.

Most of the unsolved murders in this State -- including the 49 in the "K" district alone -- are in DMR West. Yet, rural divisions like Carlow/Kildare or Tipperary, which have no organised crime, have exactly the same management structures and roughly similar numbers of gardai.

The Garda Reserve, an outfit which has no function in detecting or even dealing with crime, let alone serious crime, has only 170 volunteers -- yet it, too, has a chief superintendent, superintendent and other middle-ranking gardai to run it.

DMR West is, according to detectives, utterly overwhelmed. Yet it continues to be treated as though it were a rural backwater in terms of resources. One local detective recently discovered that there are as many detectives in Longford as there are in any of the DMR West stations.

Following yet another spate of gangland murders two years ago, Commissioner Noel Conroy appointed an additional 50 gardai to detective duties based in Harcourt Square, specifically to target gangland violence.

The "Nifty Fifty", as they are nicknamed, have been working tirelessly, gathering intelligence, carrying out surveillance and have had remarkable success given that most are young and relatively inexperienced in detective work. But colleagues say these young crime fighters are becoming increasingly disillusioned at their growing realisation that, if they had opted for safer, uncomplicated duties not involving crime detection, they would stand a much better chance of career enhancement.

As one pointed out: "These are great young gardai, but if they got themselves office jobs they would be better off. They see people who sit on their arses all day getting jobs. The fellow who stops people for tax and insurance is likely to be promoted more quickly."

The killing in DMR West will continue. As well as criminals killing criminals, innocent people are dying, such as Anthony Campbell, Eddie Ward (shot dead while fixing a car for criminal Brian Downes two weeks ago), Donna Cleary (shot dead at a party in Coolock in March last year) and Baiba Saulite (shot dead last November by Marlo Hyland's mob).

It's no coincidence they all were murdered by criminals from DMR West.

- Jim Cusack

Saturday, 27 October 2007

New drug route smashed after garda stakeout of deposit box

New drug route smashed after garda stakeout of deposit box

By Tom Brady Security Editor

Saturday October 27 2007

Gardai and customs officers have smashed a new drug trafficking route into the country, after a stakeout on a post office safety deposit box.

Detectives kept watch on the box, at Rathmines sorting office on the southside of Dublin, after a package of cocaine had been delivered by courier.

They arrested three men, two Nigerians and a Lithuanian, as the package was being collected.

Last night, the three suspects, all in their 20s, were being questioned at Terenure and Rathmines garda stations. They can be held without charge for up to seven days.

Gardai believe the trafficking operation was being masterminded by a gang of Nigerian criminals, who hired Lithuanians to help distribute the drugs.

One of the two Nigerians in custody was already being sought by the Garda National Immigration Bureau on a deportation order.

Last night, members of the bureau were examining the background of the other suspects, while drugs unit detectives were trying to establish if other shipments had already been brought into the country by the gang.

The package contained 3.5 kilos of cocaine, with a street value of €245,000, and it had been sent as cargo from Peru , via Belgium, to Dublin Airport.

The cocaine was discovered as a result of routine checks by customs officers at the airport earlier in the week.


The package, which was too big for parcel post, was collected by a courier and brought to the sorting office, where members of the Garda National Drugs Unit and the local drugs squad set up surveillance, until the cocaine was collected on Thursday afternoon.

One man was spotted taking possession of the package and he then joined two others in a car, which was then stopped by gardai.

Senior garda officers said this was the first time they had uncovered a trafficking gang involving a combination of Nigerians and Lithuanians.

Earlier this year, 400 kilos of herbal cannabis was also imported as cargo through Dublin Airport and detected by customs officials.

That consignment was seized by gardai after it was delivered to a warehouse on the outskirts of the capital.

But officers said it was not a regular trafficking route and the move underlined the efforts by crime gangs to change tactics, in an attempt to avoid detection by the authorities.

Meanwhile, a man was in custody at Finglas garda station last night, after detectives stopped a car and seized two kilos of cocaine with a street value of €140,000. The suspect is from Baldoyle, Co Dublin.

Elsewhere, a cannabis shipment, worth €46,000, was recovered by customs officers at Rosslare ferry port yesterday.

As a result of customs profiling of passengers and risk assessment, officers searched a Polish registered car, which had arrived from Cherbourg in France. They found 3.8 kilos of cannabis concealed in a compartment in the car.

A Polish national was arrested and taken to Wexford garda station.

- Tom Brady Security Editor

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Tackling the gangs

Tackling the gangs

Thursday October 25 2007

Two extraordinary, organised gang murders in recent days have focussed public attention on the rise in violent crime.

The beating to death of young truck driver Paul Quinn in Co Monaghan as "punishment" for having offended some shadowy godfather, followed by the murder of garrulous young Dublin gang leader, John Daly, were remarkable for the cold blooded manner of their execution and for the killers' obvious contempt for the State and its law enforcers.

They seem to say, 'look, we can do what we like'.

It is not surprising, therefore, that the crime figures from the Central Statistics Office, as reported today, have attracted attention.

The most dramatic news is that there has been a sharp increase in the number of recorded murders in the third quarter of 2007 compared to the same period last year.

There were 21 murders, compared to 14, an increase of 50pc. We immediately think of armed gangs blasting at each other with automatic weapons.

But is that the whole story?

The fact that there have been 17 gang killings this year, the same number as in the same period last year, tells us that there has been a sharp increase in murders which are unrelated to gang crime.

This in a country with a rapidly growing population.

Yet something has to be done about the gangs. The Taoiseach has told the Dail that "draconian measures", including special criminal courts, will be considered if the gangs continue to break the law.

He must know that the gangs are not listening and have utter contempt for him, the Dail, the gardai, the courts and, ultimately, the prison authorities.

If his warning did cause a ripple of alarm in some quarters, it will have been quelled by the Minister for Justice's reminder that the Director of Public Prosecutions already possesses the power to refer trials to the special courts if he chooses.

It would be wrong to attempt to minimise the level of crime, but it is important to retain some perspective. The CSO figures show that a number of crimes that directly affect ordinary people, such as sexual offences, thefts, burglaries and robberies have actually decreased.

All credit to the gardai.

But while the drug gangs continue to wage war on the streets, the public will remain sceptical.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Hitting back at the gangsters

Hitting back at the gangsters

Tuesday October 23 2007

John Daly became a national celebrity six months ago when he telephoned Joe Duffy's radio programme from his prison cell. The incident prompted a clean-up operation and the seizure of contraband goods including mobile phones, drugs -- and two budgies.

As usual, the operation was more cosmetic than effective. There are still mobile phones in our prisons. More significantly, the gang structure inside some of them remains much the same as on the outside.

And John Daly had many enemies, inside and outside. His life was not safe, either in the jail from which he made the call or in the streets.

It would have been safer if he had been more careful after his release; if he had heeded the advice of the Garda Siochana. But he ignored their advice. And his enemies took note of his movements in and out of Dublin city centre. Early yesterday morning they fired five bullets into his body.

The details of the crime, the trauma of the taxi driver who found himself with a dead body slumped on his lap, are horrible. Much more disturbing is what lies behind the reaction of the local residents.

For the gangsters do not confine their violent activities to their internal rivalries and hatreds. They are equally prepared to kill an innocent bystander at random, or to murder a potential witness. In certain parts of Dublin, Limerick, and other cities, people fear to say anything whatever about them. That was hideously clear in the aftermath of John Daly's murder.

Sadly, it will remain the norm until such time as we witness two vital developments. The gangs must be broken. But to break them we need leadership and imagination on a scale so far unknown.

Where is the leadership? It has to come from the top. It is not exclusively a matter for Justice Minister Brian Lenihan and the police. It requires co-ordination of several Government departments, and the intense interest of the Taoiseach.

But yesterday, as a 26pc rise in the murder rate was confirmed, Bertie Ahern reverted to his "somebody should do something" mode.It was time, he said, that society stopped tolerating casual violence and thuggery in the streets.

Such a feeble comment sounds more like the remark of a caller to Mr Duffy's programme than a credible promise of the leadership and action society so badly needs.

Why killings send shiver down spine of politics

Why killings send shiver down spine of politics

By Fionnan Sheahan

Tuesday October 23 2007

It would be wrong to separate the two brutal murders which occurred over a 48 hour period at the weekend. Whatever about the different motivations behind these respective callous killings, the appalling lack of respect for human life is quite shocking.

The gangland hit on Dublin criminal John Daly and the beating to death of Paul Quinn in Co Monaghan cannot merely be put down as further statistics in areas with troubled histories with the law.

These murders were carried out by gangs who believe they can carry out such acts with apparent impunity and terrorise the communities in which they operate.

Mr Quinn's killing is all the more sinister as it is a throwback to what was thought to be a bygone era.

Both these murders have profound political consequences.

The murder of the senior gangland figure in Finglas was the seventeenth gun murder since the start of the year, the Labour Party pointed out.

So much for the "last sting of dying wasp" predicted, two years ago, by Michael McDowell.

Remember him.

Labour's Pat Rabbitte said what is of particular concern is the resurgence of gangland killings is happening at a time when conviction rates are falling further.

No wonder criminals now think they can get away with shooting an unarmed garda in broad daylight.

The latest murder won't be described as a watershed but it will spark an initial reaction from the Government in an effort to be seen to be tough on crime.

Up on the border, a community that went through decades of suffering is again thrust back into the spotlight.

Warnings from the DUP that Northern Ireland's powersharing government is under threat, if the IRA was involved in the killing, serve to show how fragile the arrangement is as it continues to bed down.

However, it's highly unlikely unionists are going to walk over this issue, particularly as the direct involvement of the Republican movement probably won't be proven.

The certainty with which Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness were able to state there was no Republican involvement is nothing new.

Sinn Fein was down this route before with the Colombia Three and the killers of Robert McCartney.

The party's duplicity on those occasions and reluctance to come straight out and react as any organisation with a respect for the rule of law would mean there is still a deal of trust to be built up before they are taken seriously.

Mr Adams' condemnation of the murder, description of the perpetrators as criminals and appeal for those with information to go directly to the gardai and PSNI still takes a lot of getting used to.

It's welcome nonetheless.

In a sign of the changed times, Mr McGuinness, in his capacity as Northern Ireland's deputy first minister, had been briefed by the Garda Commissioner and PSNI chief constable on the killing.

Sinn Fein can't be blamed for the actions of every thug engaged in smuggling along the border.

But these criminals would appear to have shared a common background.

While they may no longer be acting as the IRA, the old boys network has thrown them together.

The IRA activities tolerated for so long by Sinn Fein means that old habits die hard and some individuals are conditioned to feeling that beating someone to death is acceptable behaviour.

It isn't.

The killing of Mr Quinn demands a police response and the PSNI and gardai are working together to apprehend the killers.

Unfortunately the conspiracy of silence and turning a blind eye, combined with abject fear of recriminations for giving information, make the task all the more difficult.

Old habits die hard.

Wherever there is a border with different tax regimes on either side, criminality will occur.

Fine Gael TD Joe McHugh last night spoke of the concerns of residents from border towns on both sides of the border and called for greater cooperation between the gardai and PSNI.

The Donegal North-East TD highlighted a measure that might well make a difference. "Criminals still feel they can use the border for their own criminal ends.

"It's high time the gardai and the PSNI were allowed to cross the border while in pursuit of criminals.

"We need to send a clear message to criminals that crossing the border won't make them immune to arrest," he said.

The apparent support of the DUP for this solution to cutting off the cross-border escape route shows that even in this new era, public worries about criminal activity is a 32-county phenomenon.

Communities are demanding action and seeking leadership, whether it's being delivered or not.

- Fionnan Sheahan

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Weapons cache linked to INLA figure, say gardai

Weapons cache linked to INLA figure, say gardai

Thursday October 04 2007

An arms and explosives find, uncovered by the Garda Special Branch in central Dublin, has been linked to a major INLA figure in the capital.

The cache was to have been used by the notorious dissident republican as part of his plans to step up an extortion campaign in the capital.

The suspect has an INLA gang based mainly in Tallaght but has been living recently in the south inner city.

Garda intelligence indicates that he has been attempting to lure former renegade republican associates and members of crime gangs to join his gang over the past couple of months.

He is believed to have organised a number of attacks involving pipe bombs and other improvised explosive devices in Dublin over the last year.

The attacks have been aimed partly at extortion targets, who refused to hand over money to the gang leader, but the explosives have also been used by him to settle grievances.

Senior anti-terrorist officers also believe he has been supplying other devices to crime gangs around the city.

The find was made in an apartment at Stanhope Street, off Manor Street, in the north inner city on Tuesday night.

It followed a lengthy intelligence-gathering operation involving the Special Branch and the national surveillance unit, and was co-ordinated by the force's crime and security branch at headquarters in the Phoenix Park.


Detectives recovered two handguns and three explosive devices as well as fake security guard uniforms and balaclava helmets.

A 30-year-old man detained at the scene was still being held for questioning last night at the Bridewell garda station under section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act.

The detained man is from Dublin and had not been known to gardai prior to his arrest.

One of the attacks linked to the INLA figure involved a military grenade, which exploded at Park Terrace in the heart of the Coombe district.

This attack, which took place last June, is thought to have stemmed from a relatively minor row between a criminal and his mother-in-law.

Garda forensic detectives and Army ordnance officers later established a link between the Coombe grenade and another used in a gang feud in Crumlin that was related to a row among prisoners in Mountjoy jail.

The grenades are thought to have been part of a batch manufactured in the former Yugoslavia and smuggled into the country by dissident republicans.

The upsurge in violent incidents where grenades and pipebombs were used prompted by the garda authorities to set up a special team to co-ordinate inquiries into the attacks in Dublin and also in Limerick.

The garda team includes members of the Special Branch, the national bureau of criminal investigation, the technical bureau and local detectives.

The INLA figure is also listed as a prime suspect for a terrorist murder in Britain.