Henry McDonald, Ireland editor
The Observer, Sunday 20 July 2008
Gangland wars have turned Dublin into the Chicago of the 21st century, a TD and chairman of a drugs task force in the Irish capital said last night.
Labour TD Joe Costello also revealed that a preliminary study by the Inner City Drugs Task Force has found that a majority of drug dealers arrested on serious offences were out on bail.
Costello made his remarks following two more gangland-related murders in north Dublin this weekend. Gardai have launched a murder investigation following the fatal shooting of a 33-year-old man in Finglas early yesterday. The victim was named as Trevor Walsh, from Valley Park Road in Finglas. He had been serving a three-year prison sentence for possession of firearms, but was let out on temporary release on Thursday.
The attack, which happened at about 12.20am outside a house on the Kippure Park estate, was the second fatal shooting in the capital in 24 hours.
A gunman approached the victim outside a house in the estate and shot him in the neck and chest, before fleeing the scene on a bicycle. It is understood that the killer used an automatic pistol. Walsh was taken to Blanchardstown Hospital, but was pronounced dead at 1am.
The victim was associated with the late John Daly, a Dublin criminal who was shot dead last October. Walsh had been a member of a gang which specialised in importing drugs and armed robberies in the city.
It is not clear whether yesterday morning's attack was connected to the shooting of a man in Coolock, north Dublin, on Friday afternoon. The man, named locally as 34-year-old Anthony Foster, was killed with a shotgun as he left a top-floor apartment at Cromcastle Court. Commenting on the latest gang-related shooting, Costello, who represents inner-city Dublin in the Dail, said there was no coherent plan to counter the rising number of killings.
'Dublin now resembles Chicago in the Roaring Twenties, when the gangsters were out of control,' he said. 'There is no joined-up strategy to fight these gangs, either at a national or international level. All of our drugs are imported, mostly by sea along Ireland's coastline, yet we have no proper network with our fellow Europeans to patrol the seaboard. We don't have enough boats, planes or helicopters to intercept the smuggling networks,' he said.
Over the last three years there have been more than a dozen killings in north Dublin alone related to rival drugs gangs. Costello added that, while the Irish government talks tough in regard to Ireland's gangland wars, the system remained loaded in the criminals' favour. 'We have found that the overwhelming majority of people arrested on serious drug offences almost all get bail and are back on the streets. The turf wars over who controls drug supplies in certain parts of Dublin have been fuelled by the easy availability of firearms and now explosives.'
Costello said the expertise of retired republican paramilitaries had been harnessed to arm and train the city's criminal gangs.