Sunday, 24 January 2010

'Guards can't cope as gangs take over'

'Guards can't cope as gangs take over'
Poll reveals public fears as force struggles with exodus of officers


Sunday January 24 2010

AN Garda Siochana is unable to cope with rising gangland crime, leaving many in fear of leaving their homes at night, according to a nationwide Sunday Independent opinion poll.

As the force struggles to cope with the exodus of senior officers, two-thirds of those polled said they believed gardai were not up to the task of dealing with gangland crime.

Sixty per cent of respondents said they did not feel safe leaving their homes at night, while more than half of respondents believed that gardai should carry weapons.

The poll findings come at a time of plummeting morale in the Garda Siochana, as senior management have been critically depleted by a rash of retirements.

One assistant commissioner post and 11 chief superintendent positions are vacant across the force, including key positions at the National Bureau of Criminal Investigations -- which investigates organised crime -- the Garda Special Branch and at Garda Technical Bureau.

More than 20 superintendent posts are vacant and scores more at inspector and sergeant level.

Analysis and poll details, page 27

Many senior officers have had to double their workload. For instance, the chief superintendent at the Garda Drugs Squad, Tony Quilter, has also had to take on responsibility for the NBCI, while the chief superintendent in Kerry, John Kerins, is now also responsible for Clare.

Almost 800 gardai left the force last year, twice the number anticipated. The exodus was attributed to members who wanted to protect their pensions from cuts in last year's Budget. An embargo on promotions and recruitment means that senior officers are not being replaced.

The depletion at senior ranks coincides with a failure to curb gangland crime and a dramatic increase in burglaries since the recession took hold. Of 36 gangland murders in Dublin last year, only three have been solved. Burglaries have increased in 20 of the 28 garda divisions.

Fifty-five per cent of respondents said gardai should be armed. Those in favour believed gardai needed to be armed in order to successfully deal with threats they now faced going about their duties.

Of the 66 per cent who believed gardai were not up to the task of combating gangland crime, some believed that the force was under-resourced and wanted to see the Government invest in specialised units to tackle the proliferation of criminal gangs.

Sixty per cent of respondents said they did not feel safe on the streets at night, with some respondents saying they would not leave the house after 8pm. Others said they would only go out in their immediate neighbourhood and would avoid large urban areas after dark.

Despite these fears, an overwhelming 88 per cent of respondents said they felt safe in their homes. Many of those who did not feel safe in their homes -- 12 per cent -- were elderly, had already been the victim of a break-in, or knew of break-ins in the area.

Despite new legislation introduced by Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern, including plans for a national DNA database that can be used in criminal trials, many respondents also perceived a need for more effective laws to take gangs off the streets.

The prospect of gardai going on strike in protest at pay and pension cuts received little support in yesterday's poll. A majority of respondents (60 per cent) said they would not support gardai taking some form of industrial action in protest at the Budget cuts, with 40 per cent pledging their support.

Some respondents said they believed gardai were unique amongst public workers in that they were contractually obliged to forfeit their right to strike. If they were to strike, the country would be left to the mercy of criminals. "They have to take the pain just like everybody else," said a female from the country.

Charles Flanagan, Fine Gael's justice spokesman, claims the Government's failure to replace retiring senior officers is hampering the fight against organised crime.

He said the "flight of top brass meant that when it came to the war against crime the gardai are now like an army that has lost its generals".


Sunday Independent

Crime gangs run riot as under-resourced garda force struggles

Crime gangs run riot as under-resourced garda force struggles
Last year saw the worst levels of gangland murders and violence in Dublin and this year is off to an even worse start. Gardai themselves are beginning to say that the spiral of violence is out of control and they can't cope. Jim Cusack reports

Sunday January 24 2010

A FATAl accident in the early hours of last Friday week happened at Balgriffin in north Dublin. The man who died in the single-vehicle accident was Anton Licko, a 26-year-old Slovakian working in Dublin and living in Santry.

The accident happened in the Coolock Garda District. Fatal accidents are complicated cases to deal with and require a large amount of investigation, soaking up a great deal of garda time. The fact that the victim in this case was a foreign national adds considerably to the garda workload as family members have to be contacted via Interpol and the Slovakian police.

Coolock is a station under pressure with high levels of stress from the constant stream of mid-level crime, burglary, robbery and a number of unsolved gangland murders. The start of the year had not been a good time for gardai working the three-relief shift system known as the "Regular". An administrative mistake resulting from the reductions in public sector pay meant that certain allowances due in early January hadn't been paid. As a result, sources say, some gardai, encumbered with debt since Christmas, didn't have the money for petrol to get to work. Many younger gardai in Dublin live in commuter towns around Leinster as they were unable to buy homes in the capital during the years of the property boom.

The fatal road accident was assigned to a junior garda just out of probation. This would have been unheard of years ago when such a case would always have been assigned to a senior garda, experienced in bring ing this kind of case correctly and successfully to, and through, the inquest stage.

Coolock has, on paper, around 230 gardai. However, like all the stations in Dublin, it operates a four-shift system and, generally speaking, there are only about 20 uniformed gardai on duty at any one time. This shift system also means that there are the same number of gardai on duty on a Monday morning, when nothing is happening, as there are on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night when things can often cut up rough.

That night, Friday, January 15, at just after 11.30pm, Coolock gardai received an emergency call about a stabbing at the Hole in the Wall Road in Donaghmede. The victim, Warren O'Connor, 24, a highly respectable young man and former soldier, had been stabbed through the heart.

Warren, a talented footballer, had gone to the assistance of a friend living in the Grattan Wood apartment complex who was having trouble with rowdy neighbours, friends say. He was accompanied by his brother Keith and another friend. An altercation took place inside the complex.

What happened next is still being pieced together but it appears that Warren and his friends were accompanying a pregnant woman and a three-year-old child away from the complex when other men from the party appeared and the altercation renewed. The car Warren was in was rammed as it tried to leave. It was forced to stop and Warren was attacked and, in front of the woman and child, stabbed in the chest. The kitchen knife snapped and the blade was left protruding from his chest. He died at the scene.

As the murder scene spread from the apartment complex along the Hole in the Wall Road to lower Grange Road, uniformed gardai had to be placed at points along the route to guard the lengthy crime scene. An incident room was set up in Coolock and the murder investigation started.

The next night, January 16, Coolock garda station received another emergency call about another murder. This time the victim was 27-year-old Noel Deans, a troubled young man who had been in and out of custody since the age of 14. He had a lengthy record with arrests for knocking down and seriously injuring a garda, possession of heroin and crack cocaine, criminal damage, car theft and assault. If he hadn't been mentally damaged from childhood, his habit of sniffing petrol during his teen years wouldn't have helped induce stability in his life.

He had been drinking in the Priorswood Inn in Priorswood and was walking home to his partner's house off Ferrycarrig Road -- the same area where Warren O'Connor's family live -- when a gunman approached and shot him dead.

Coolock gardai were already tied up in another murder investigation. The first gangland slaying of the year had originated in their district. John Paul 'JP' Joyce, a vicious criminal and member of a heroin distribution gang, had been kidnapped in Coolock on Thursday, January 7, murdered and his body dumped near the airport where it was found two days later.

Joyce, aged 30, was involved in a feud with a gang which has been establishing complete control over the drugs trade in an area stretching from the north inner city to north county Dublin and westwards to Ballymun, Finglas and Blanchardstown. It was responsible for murdering Joyce's brother, Thomas, in June last year and John Paul had vowed revenge. John Paul himself had already survived at least two attempts on his life.

The two murdered Joyce brothers, members of a settled Traveller family from Grove Lane, were notorious in north Dublin. John Paul was imprisoned for a terrible assault on an innocent man at a public house in Rush, Co Dublin on St Patrick's Day, 2006. The man's son had accidentally spilled a drink on someone in Joyce's company. He and another man dragged the man from the pub, beat him to the ground, jumped on him and slammed a door repeatedly on the man's head, causing severe injury. Joyce had only been released from prison last November.

Along with the Joyce and Warren O'Connor murders and the fatal road traffic accident, Coolock garda also had to contend with the abduction of a local shopkeeper, an innocent man, who was taken at gunpoint from a newsagents on Glin Road on January 12 by four men. The man was released unhurt after several hours.

The weight of work on Coolock garda station meant that when Noel Deans was shot they had to shift the investigation over to the neighbouring Clontarf Station.

The Coolock Garda District covers a very large area, with the rundown station being responsible for policing in Coolock, Darndale, Donaghmede, Baldoyle and the new Northern Fringe.

The Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR) West, which stretches from Finglas right across to Ballyfermot and west to Rathcoole, has the highest incidence of gangland murder and violence in the State and is experiencing unforeseen levels of homicide. Some 760 gardai are stationed in DMR West. But they nearly all work the shift system which means that of that total, no more than a quarter of uniformed gardai are on duty. If you subtract the number of gardai doing office work in stations and on nine to five duties such as "community" policing, there are rarely more than around 150 gardai on duty in this huge division which is experiencing the highest crime rates in the country's history.

Garda management's response appears to be less than certain. When the New Year was heralded in with three gangland murders in Dublin and the clear threat of retaliation over the John Paul Joyce murder, the Garda's armed Emergency Response Unit (ERU) was deployed to carry out checkpoints in the Coolock and Baldoyle area. RTE filmed the ERU in their black paramilitary outfits checking cars.

Whatever the point behind the deployment of the ERU was, it had no effect on stopping the murder, two nights later, of Noel Deans in the same area.

Last week, gardai in the division were angry about the deployment of the ERU, describing it variously as a "stunt", a "PR stunt" and "ridiculous".

One said: "Their [Garda management] strategies have failed, if they ever had any. This moving the ERU around is totally ridiculous. It's for the cameras."

He continued: "The criminals have moved ahead but we're still operating the same old systems that were in place in the Sixties and Seventies. Crime is at epidemic proportions out here. There is combat fatigue in every station. There's the same old demarcation between districts and divisions there was donkeys years ago. But we haven't changed anything. They need to tear up the book and start again."

Others agreed that the response of both Government and Garda management has failed.

Another senior garda pointed out that with the flow of experienced -- and predominantly big male -- gardai leaving, the force, the actual physical attributes of the Garda is declining. And it is also becoming less masculine. He estimated that with the intake of female members in recent years reaching 40 per cent, this will soon result in a police force physically incapable of taking on violent "gougers".

Last year 800 gardai retired, almost all of them men, and it is expected a similarly large number will retire this year, again the vast majority male. The traditional image of the garda -- a tall and physically strong male -- has already begun to change since the then Minister for Justice, John O'Donoghue dropped height and physical attribute restrictions in 2001 after years of campaigning, mainly by the Labour Party. These were replaced by a "physical competence test". Previously, under the 1937 Garda appointments regulations, male gardai had to be at least five feet nine inches tall with a chest measurement of at least 37 inches and female gardai had to be at least five feet five inches.

The senior officer said that in many stations in troubled urban areas, sergeants were afraid to send physically slight gardai, whether male or female, out on duties over concerns for their safety. Beat duty has virtually disappeared on evenings and at night. In one DMR West station there have been so many attacks on gardai that patrol cars will only go out in pairs.

One officer in south Dublin said: "Every night on the radio you hear them screaming for back-up in Tallaght. God knows what's going on out there."

Another officer pointed to the changes to the Garda uniform as a potent symbol of what is happening in Irish society. "Ten years ago you had the garda on the beat in his tunic, no baton in sight. Now they are wearing paramilitary uniform, stab vests, pepper sprays and these new batons."

The war against "organised" criminals, detectives say, is being lost. There are more illegal guns in the country than there were at the height of the IRA campaign when it was importing shiploads of weapons from Libya. The Garda Press Office last month issued a statement saying that 2,800 weapons had been recovered under the 'Operation Anvil' in the past three years.

At the end of 2008, gardai in Dublin and police in Belgium intercepted two of the largest shipments of heroin, with a value of more than €20m, within the space of a week. District Drug Unit gardai in Dublin reported in the following weeks that the price of the drug on the streets -- at record low levels -- hadn't gone up at all. That meant that two of the big traffickers operating in this state could take a €10m hit each and still stay in business without putting up their prices.

One of the biggest gangs in Dublin, whose chief enforcer is the figure known in newspapers as "the Don," responsible for over a dozen murders in the past year, took a massive hit over a 1,500 kilo shipment of cocaine seized on board a yacht off Galway in October 2008. The wholesale value of this shipment would be around €50m. The gang is still in business supplying a large area of north Dublin.

Several initiatives and a slew of legislation introduced by Government has had no effect in stemming the rise of murder and other crime. Criminal legislation has boomed to the same extent as crime has boomed in the past two decades. The Government has enacted so much legislation that the book that contained criminal justice legislation relevant to garda investigations is no longer a book but a massive two-volume loose-leaf affair that costs €520.

The force is now encountering its biggest deficit in experience with the exit of hundreds of gardai with huge amounts of operational experience. The largest black hole in management is at the key mid-levels of sergeant and inspector where there are now hundreds of vacancies. This also means that there are not enough at these ranks to help guide younger gardai who make up a growing proportion of the force.

Michael McDowell increased the size of the Garda force from 12,000 to 14,000 when he was Minister for Justice. About 40 per cent of gardai now have less than five years' experience. Probationer gardai are also bound down with large amounts of academic work, all having to complete a 10,000-word essay even though they have already begun working. In stations in high-crime areas this is causing considerable strain for the young gardai, older officers say.

Yes, the force is bigger, but ironically, it is less effective.

The Garda Reserve "initiative" has completely floundered. Despite setting up a management structure of the same size and seniority as the structure in the DMR West, the reserve has attracted only a few hundred members who, one Dublin garda said, "mostly sit around the station".

In the past, Dublin had a chief superintendent in charge of crime in what was called the Central Detective Unit. There was also a chief superintendent in charge of what used to be termed the Murder Squad whose brief was the rest of the country. The two agencies were amalgamated in 1995. There is now, on paper, only one chief in charge of the National Bureau of Crime Investigation (NBCI) to cover the entire country. (At present this job is being filled by the chief superintendent who is also in charge of the Garda National Drug Unit, since the retirement last year of the NBCI's chief superintendent, Noel White).

The chief superintendent at the Crime and Security Section in Garda Headquarters is also acting chief superintendent for the Special Branch whose head also retired last year.

There are vacancies at senior level all over the country. There are no chief supers in Mayo, Sligo (which also has three of its four superintendent positions vacant), Clare, Limerick, Cork city, the Legal Section and Technical Bureau in Headquarters.

The significance and seriousness of this lack of senior experienced officers is that more and more serious crime investigations are not being properly scrutinised. According to senior sources, more and more incomplete files are being sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions who, they say, is sending back more files for "further investigation" than ever before.

Previously it was the job of a senior investigating officer to scrutinise a file to make sure it contained enough proper evidence to sustain a prosecution.

The figures speak for themselves. In 2008 and 2009, there were 36 murders related to gangland activity in Dublin. Charges have been brought in only three cases and as yet there have been no convictions.

Dublin's gangsters may be vicious thugs but they are not stupid. They can see the odds -- less than 10 per cent of getting caught and none if you do the job half right.

Sunday Independent

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Don flees 'until heat dies down' over murders

Irish Herald

By Cormac Looney
Saturday January 23 2010
DUBLIN’S biggest gang boss, ‘The Don’, may have fled the country, gardai believe.
The criminal is reported to have flown out to Spain earlier this week.
He left after his gang became the suspects in the murder of Coolock traveller John Paul Joyce, who was abducted and shot two weeks ago.
It is unclear whether The Don will return for a forthcoming sentencing date, where he is facing the prospect of being imprisoned on serious charges.
According to senior sources, the Finglas-based criminal left north Dublin at the start of the week, and travelled to the Costa del Sol.
The man has extensive contacts on the continent, among both expat Irish and foreign criminals.
His departure came after one of his homes was raided by armed gardai a fortnight ago, following a gun attack in the city. The homes of a number of The Don's associates were also targeted.
According to sources the gangster has left the country "until the heat dies down".
One officer said: "The intelligence reports are that he has left for a number of days. It is unclear when he will return, but he is due to face sentencing soon. It's unlikely he'll go on the run in Spain, that would be just putting off the inevitable."
The Don, who was a former pal of Marlo Hyland, heads a gang which has been linked to over a dozen murders over the past four years. He is not a suspect for carrying out any of the killings, and the murders are believed to have been committed by junior gang members.
In the process, the outfit has reportedly taken over control of drug supply to large swathes of the Dublin's northside and its members are greatly feared among criminals in the capital.
Gangland tensions are running high in north Dublin following the murder of criminal John Paul Joyce, whose body was discovered shot and dumped at Dublin Airport last Saturday week. Joyce, who was known as a drug dealer, had been abducted and taken to the area where he was shot.
An innocent man was kidnapped and threatened days later in an incident linked to the Joyce murder. He escaped from his captors by running from their car in Clondalkin.
Reports of The Don's move to Spain follows revelations this week that serious crime detectives are investigating alleged contact between members of his gang and a garda at a north Dublin station. It is alleged that the garda allowed two members of The Don's gang to access a room at the station and check the internal force computer system, PULSE.
Confidential information, both "hard" in terms of court appearances and offences, and "soft", concerning the movements of criminals and persons of interest, are collated on the internal garda PULSE system.
The garda has been placed under investigation by the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation following the reports but no charges have been brought to date.
- Cormac Looney

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Gun murder sparks new gang war fears

Irish Herald

By Ralph Riegel
Thursday January 21 2010
Gardai fear a gangland war could erupt in Cork after the brutal drug-related slaying of Ger Stanton (42).
Stanton -- who was associated with one of the city's biggest drug gangs -- was murdered in an execution-style shooting just metres from the front door of his Wilton home last night.
Detectives now fear the killing may be linked to a deadly turf war between two crime gangs -- one of whom has links to the notorious gang at the centre of Limerick's bloody crime feud.
Gardai are now on high alert in case of potential retaliatory attacks in Cork.
Stanton's shooting is the seventh murder in Ireland in the past 14 days. Originally from Knocknaheeny on Cork's northside, Stanton was shot with a double-barrelled shotgun.
Stanton was caught by the shotgun blast seconds after he opened the door of his rented house and walked to collect something from his Audi A4 car parked in the driveway.
The two shotgun cartridges caught him full in the chest and head, inflicting horrific injuries.
He apparently tried to stagger back to the shelter of his house but collapsed from his injuries onto his driveway.
The gunman immediately fled the scene in a waiting van.
Gardai were later notified of a burning van found at Waterfall on the outskirts of the city shortly after 9pm.
The vehicle was expected to be forensically examined today to see if it is linked to the killing.
Gardai were at the scene in Wilton within minutes and paramedics rushed the wounded man to Cork University Hospital (CUH) which is located less than 1km from where the shooting occurred. Despite frantic efforts by doctors to stabilise his condition, Stanton died a short time later.
Distraught members of his family later visited the West Lawn house to comfort his shocked partner. Ger Stanton had been living in the rented house with the woman and her two children for several months.
Gardai cordoned off the entire estate of terraced houses and ordered a full examination by technical, forensic and ballistic experts.
It is believed that the gunman and his getaway driver may have been laying in wait for him in the Wilton area for at least an hour before the shooting occurred.
Detectives last night began door-to-door inquiries to determine if anyone spotted the getaway van in the moments immediately before and after the shooting.
Residents were left deeply shocked by the killing which occurred in a quiet residential area.
Locals described the estate as very tranquil -- and regularly spotted the man playing football with the two children in his garden.
Gardai are now also checking CCTV security camera footage in the Wilton area to determine if the getaway van can be identified and whether cameras caught any suspicious activity in the minutes before the shooting.
Detectives are convinced the dead man's home must have been under surveillance for some time by his killers.
A full post mortem examination was scheduled to be carried out today by the State Pathologist's Office.
The killing is the first fatal gangland shooting in Cork in over three years.
- Ralph Riegel

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Garda accused of giving gang access to files

Irish Herald

By Herald Reporter
Wednesday January 20 2010
A young garda allegedly gave two members of The Don’s gang access to sensitive computer files at his station.
The officer is now facing an investigation over claims the gang henchmen were allowed see the Garda PULSE system.
The Herald has learned that the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation are examining reports that the garda let two associates of the Finglas gang boss into a garda station.
PULSE is the central computer system used by the force where all reported crime and most intelligence files are held.
The young garda, who denies the allegations, is based at a station in north Dublin.
He is the latest officer suspected of leaking information to criminals.
It is understood that senior gardai have been examining the allegation for the last five months, but have been unable to confirm that the officer allowed two associates of The Don into a northside garda station to access the PULSE system.
The incident is alleged to have taken place a number of months ago, and the men were allegedly let into the station in the middle of the night, where they checked out the internal PULSE system.
Confidential information, both “hard” in terms of court appearances and offences, and “soft”, concerning the movements of criminals and persons of interest, are collated on the internal garda PULSE system.
The latest garda to come under scrutiny, who is single and has fewer then 10 years service in the force, has been aware for some time that he is under suspicion. The officer has denied the allegation.
However, it is believed that senior officers are treating the allegation as serious.
It is also understood that detectives from the National Bureau of Criminal Investigations (NBCI) told the garda's superintendent that the officer was not to be involved in any investigations into recent gangland killings.
Three other gardai are also been under investigation for allegedly leaking information from the PULSE computer system.
The three are believed to be linked to the Finglas gang run by a criminal nicknamed The Don, who has been linked to a number of murders, along with armed robbery and drug dealing.
Two are on restricted duties pending further inquiries and one, who is based in the north west of the city, has been suspended while a file is prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions after he was suspected of passing information on to one of the Don’s gang.
As a result of the inquiries into this garda, more than a dozen young gardai – who it is alleged were tricked into downloading information using their own log-on details on the PULSE system – are also facing internal disciplinary inquiries.
These officers are not suspected of wilful wrongdoing, however they are being treated by their superiors as being negligent in allowing themselves to be tricked into taking the infomation off the system by the other officers who were allegedly in the payment of the gang.
The Garda Press Office did not comment on the PULSE access allegation or the investigation into it.
- Herald Reporter

Friday, 15 January 2010

Gardai probe new lead in double murder

Gardai probe new lead in double murder

By Tom Brady Security Editor

Friday January 15 2010

GARDAI have made significant progress with their inquiries into the double murder in the centre of Dublin last Sunday.

They have gathered new information, which they believe could be vital to building up their case against the killers, the Irish Independent has learned.

Senior officers said last night they were satisfied with the investigation so far although a number of lines of inquiry had yet to be completed.

Local gardai are being backed up by detectives from the organised crime unit in the investigation into the fatal shootings of Brendan Molyneaux (45) and Paddy Mooney (58) in the Pearse House flats complex in Pearse Street.

Detectives are continuing to question the prime suspect for the shootings, his girlfriend and another man, who were all arrested in Finglas and the city centre less than two hours after the murders.

Officers are awaiting the results of forensic tests on items taken from the murder scene in Mr Mooney's flat and these could yield vital clues to the identity of the gunman and his accomplice.

Gardai will also have to decide this evening whether to go to another special sitting of Dublin District Court to seek a further extension of the detention period for the three suspects.

Members of the garda water unit carried out a search of the Royal Canal yesterday, close to Spencer Dock, in a bid to find the gun used in the killings.

Based on an examination of the information gathered so far, senior officers ordered a search of the frozen canal, but the weapon was not found.

The suspected gunman is well known to gardai and from Finglas. He has already been linked to at least one other gangland murder in Dublin in the past two years and has been described as a "gun for hire".

Gardai are separately building up a file on the gang boss, who is believed to have been involved with two of his associates in organising Sunday's attack.


Meanwhile, heavily armed members of the emergency response unit were sent on to the streets of Dublin's trouble spots last night in a drive against organised crime gangs.

The special unit has been tasked with carrying out "search and disruption" tactics against suspected gangland figures.

Armed detectives set up checkpoints in areas such as Ballymun and Coolock and also in Finglas and Blanchardstown.

Senior garda officers said the city-wide operation would continue for several weeks.

- Tom Brady Security Editor

Four held as net tightens on gang boss the 'Don'

Irish Herald

By Cormac Byrne
Friday January 15 2010
Detectives were today hopeful of charging drugslord 'The Don' with double murder.
An informant within the killer's crew has blown the lid on the bloody gang leader.
The breakthrough comes as armed and balaclava clad members of the ERU were deployed in west Dublin to further undermine the Don's gang.
Separately, raids were carried out last night on a guns-for-hire business on the westside, uncovering handguns and silencers.
In the biggest blow to the Don, an informant in his own outfit has come forward and implicated him in last weekend's double murder in Dublin.
The so-called Don has been behind 12 murders in the capital.
Now officers investigating the killing of Brendan Molyneaux and innocent man Paddy Mooney last Sunday are understood to have received important information in the past 24 hours.
A source told the Herald early today: "It's make or break time. The next 12 hours are critical."
Meanwhile, one of those arrested after the killings reportedly tried to hang himself in custody.
The man, who was captured on CCTV at the murder scene, did not suffer serious injuries and was still being quizzed by gardai today.
The fast-moving investigation also saw gardai search the Royal Canal in Spencer Dock for the murder weapon -- but no trace of it was found.
The new information in the killings has been described by sources as a "break" in the case, and could see charges filed against several of the Don's gang.
A critical point in the probe comes this evening, as gardai decide whether to continue to hold the suspects, charge or release them.
The "Don" was the orchestrator of at least a dozen deaths in the city over the past three years but this is the first time the gardai have come close to solving one of the murders carried out by his gang.
A senior source said: "This is a significant development, we are extremely hopeful that charges will follow within days."
Four people, three men and a woman, arrested after the killing last weekend, remain in custody today. They may have their periods of detention extended at court tonight.
The man who tried to harm himself, who is in his 20s, was arrested along with his girlfriend within hours of the brutal killing on Sunday evening.
Brendan Molyneaux and his friend Paddy Mooney, who had no gangland connections, were chatting in Paddy's flat when two gunmen burst in through the front door at 6.45pm last Sunday.
Paddy was shot twice in the head by the gunmen in Pearse House, off Pearse Street.
A further two suspects were arrested later that night and the four have been in custody ever since.
The prime suspect was refusing to cooperate with gardai and is believed to have become very upset in his holding cell on Thursday morning.
Gardai had to enter his cell to prevent him from killing himself. Officers had been checking his cell in 15 minute intervals and rushed to save him when they noticed something was wrong.
In an unrelated operation overnight an underworld gunsmith was arrested by gardai in Finglas. The man was allegedly maintaining and selling weapons to underworld criminals from an apartment in the area. Double murder investigators meanwhile broke through ice on the Royal Canal to search for the murder weapon, believed to be a pistol.
The Garda water unit was called as detectives believe that the murder weapon is lying in the waterway. Gardai are also searching for a bike believed to have been used by the killer that was also flung into the canal. No weapon or bike have been found yet.
The separate Finglas operation led to the seizure of 9mm ammunition and a silencer in a raid at an apartment at midnight. A man and two women were arrested.
According to sources the man was selling weapons and ammunition to criminal gangs.
- Cormac Byrne

King Ratt relative injured in pub hammer attack as bloody feud with Freddie's gang re-ignites

Irish Herald

By Andrew Phelan
Friday January 15 2010
A RELATIVE of Brian 'King Ratt' Rattigan was hit on the head with a hammer in a pub brawl linked to the bloody Crumlin-Drimnagh feud.
The man was targeted when two groups became involved in a violent row as customers dived for cover at a Drimnagh bar. He was later hospitalised with minor injuries.
Simmering tensions in the area since the conviction of gang boss Rattigan are being blamed for the incident, which saw the man attacked at the Marble Arch bar.
The injured man is a relative of Brian Rattigan and it is thought the row is related to the feud between the Rattigan gang and a rival outfit, led by 'Fat' Freddie Thompson.
Other customers in the busy bar looked on in horror as two groups squared up to each other, with one side brandishing a hammer. A number of verbal threats were issued before the weapon was produced and the mayhem erupted.
The drama unfolded after three men, one armed with a hammer, entered the bar and confronted Rattigan's relative, who was drinking with friends.
The crowd dispersed after staff pressed a panic button and were gone before the gardai arrived. But Rattigan's relative suffered injuries before the row broke up.
The victim is not thought to be seriously injured. He was brought to hospital with flesh wounds, it is understood.
Gardai are investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident, that happened just after midnight on Saturday.
The injured man is not involved in the feud and is believed to have been targeted simply because he was related to Rattigan. Gardai are continuing to hunt the three men involved in the feud.
The Marble Arch is a popular watering hole among Drimnagh locals, at Benbulbin Road near the Red Line Luas tracks.
The area is no stranger to violence, with 16 people murdered -- either directly or indirectly -- as part of the notorious and long-running Crumlin /Drimnagh feud.
Declan Gavin was the first victim when he was stabbed to death outside a fast food restaurant at the Crumlin Shopping Centre in August 2001. Brian Rattigan was last month found guilty of his murder.
The gang war stemmed from a row between former criminal associates, which erupted after gardai seized drugs in a city centre hotel a year before Mr Gavin's death.
The feud ranks as the most notorious and violent gang war in the history of Irish organised crime, rivalled only by events in Limerick in recent years.
- Andrew Phelan