By Cormac Looney and Alan O'Keeffe
Thursday January 22 2009
UNARMED gardai smashed their way into an assassin’s car last night, snatching the gun and foiling another murder.
The valiant uniformed officers took on the hitmen when their patrol car was rammed by the stolen vehicle in Clonshaugh.
In another night of violence, shots were also fired at a family home in Cabra, in an unrelated attack.
As the capital’s drug gangs continued to implode, Justice Minister Dermot Ahern was under growing criticism as rank and file officers complained that overtime cutbacks were curtailing armed patrols.
Seasoned murder investigators were also being tied up for weeks on end probing public service media leaks.
In the Clonshaugh incident, a loaded revolver was found in the men’s car, along with petrol to destroy the stolen Audi A5 after a shooting.
“They were tooled up and ready to go. We’ve no doubt that these men were on their way to shoot someone,” a source told the Herald.
Spokesman Sgt Gerry Curley said: “The garda driver managed to block this car and both gardaí got out of the patrol car and smashed the driver and passenger windows of the Audi.
“At this stage they saw a firearm inside the car.
“They tackled the occupants and arrested an 18-year-old male,” the sergeant added.
“As the other occupant was tackled he managed to break free and he fled into a back garden close to the scene. He had been wearing a balaclava that was removed in the struggle.
“At this stage additional garda personnel from Coolock and the local Crime Task Force (both uniformed and plain clothes) arrived at the scene and the area was cordoned off.”
The other occupant, a 22-year-old man, was captured some time later after breaking into a nearby occupied house.
The fully loaded revolver was today being examined to see if it had been used in previous shootings.
The two hitmen were being quizzed in Coolock Station.
The Audi sports car had been stolen earlier in Foxrock, south Dublin.
Senior officers said the patrol car crew had undoubtedly foiled what would have been the fifth gang murder of the year so far.
Officers have yet to identify the target of the planned attack, but it may not be related to two gangland murders earlier this week, in Tallaght and Finglas.
“These two guys were north inner city, and they are known to us.
“There’s a number of separate feuds simmering in the Coolock, Ballymun and Baldoyle areas and we’re looking into all those disputes in light of last night’s arrests,” a source said.
“Fair play to the unis (uniformed officers) involved. These are the guys dealing with these criminals on the frontline, and they deserve recognition.
“Too often it’s the ‘laptop guards’ behind their desks who get all the praise.”
Later at 12.45am a gunman fired two shots at a house in Saint Attracta’s Road, in Cabra. A man and a couple in the house, all innocent, were unharmed.
Gardai rushed to the scene and two 18-year-olds were arrested nearby, at a crashed silver Nissan on Broombridge Road.
It is believed that the gunmen may have opened fire at the wrong house.
Local Councillor Mary Fitzpatrick described the attack as “horrendous”.
Separately, officers in Finglas discovered guns and drugs as part of their investigations into the death of Graham McNally, shot dead in Finglas earlier this week.
The pistol and revolver were found with €80,000 worth of heroin on open ground close to McKelvey Avenue.
McNally was shot dead four hours after he stepped off a flight from Amsterdam, and gardai believe he was lured to his death by other criminals known to him.
The weapons recovered at not believed to be used in the McNally killing.
Sources said they were “keeping an open mind” on whether key members of McNally’s own gang murdered him, or whether associates of a rival criminal, Paul ‘Farmer’ Martin, were behind the hit.
McNally was suspected of supplying the firearm used in ‘Farmer’ Martin’s murder, in Finglas, five months ago.
Armed patrols have been stepped up in Finglas as the area’s biggest crime gang is on the brink of imploding in the wake of the latest murder.
Meanwhile, officers investigating the double murder of Michael ‘Rolley’ Cronin and his driver James Moloney, have released a man in his 50s, who was being held on suspicion of withholding information.
- Cormac Looney and Alan O'Keeffe