NewsCrime World

Gardai round up rival families as tension rises in underworld

Crime WorldBy Eamon Dillon
Christy Keane
Christy Keane

THREE people linked to Limerick’s McCarthy-Dundon mob have been arrested over the shooting of a gangland rival.

The arrests came this week as Gardaí continue the investigation into the attack last year that left Christy Keane badly injured and which was blamed on members of the rival McCarthy-Dundon faction.

The veteran gangster was hit four times as he fled gunmen in an early morning attack in the grounds of the University of Limerick.

There are fresh fears the feud is about to be re-ignited as Keane’s son Liam is due to be released from prison in the coming weeks.

Liam got a 10-year sentence for possession of a gun after he was arrested by armed gardaí.

One of those lifted this week for questioning is John Costello, one of the city’s gang members who was previously convicted for his part in a major drugs seizure.

Costello was driving a car from which Sean ‘Cowboy’ Hanley was seen to throw three kilos of amphetamines as they were being chased by gardaí.

Costello got a 12-year sentence for his role in the escapade, which happened near Mountrath, Co. Laois, in 2004.

Also among those arrested on suspicion of withholding information is family patriarch Larry McCarthy senior, according to sources in the city.

He is not thought to have played any role in the crime family’s deadly feud with the Keane-Collopy faction over the last two decades. Larry senior is a well-known Limerick Milk Market stall holder.

A third man, who is in his 20s and from the Moyross area of the city, was also arrested and quizzed by detectives.

So far, a total of nine people have been taken in for questioning by Gardaí probing the ambush last summer.

Despite his serious injuries, Christy Keane was back on his feet and out of hospital within weeks.

He looked remarkably healthy for a man whose escape from two armed gunmen on June 29 had been described as “miraculous”.

He had been treated at University Hospital Limerick’s high-dependency unit.

Keane’s physical fitness likely saved his life, as he ran from the attackers who opened fire as he sat in his Nissan Navara.

Four rounds hit him, including two in the torso and two in his left arm, but he still managed to get 100 metres away from the scene of the attack before collapsing.

AMBUSH: The aftermath of hit attempt on Keane 

Several raids were carried out by Gardaí on the properties of people linked to the McCarthy faction who are suspected of orchestrating the attack.

Investigators are working to establish who gave the order to have Keane attacked.

The ambush on Keane shattered a reported peace deal and threatened to re-ignite the feud that ended in 2012.

It was another failed bid to kill Keane in 2000 that sparked 10 years of deadly violence, when the mobster’s former enforcer Eddie Ryan tried to shoot him.

The gun jammed, but Ryan was murdered two years later when he was shot in the Moose Bar in the city. Ryan was the first to die in a feud that has since claimed at least 18 lives and left dozens serving long jail sentences.

Meanwhile, a teenager whose father survived an infamous murder bid in Limerick’s underworld feud has been jailed for his part in a violent street brawl.

Owen Treacy Jnr was sentenced to 18 months in prison last week along with gang thug Erol Ibrahim after the confrontation in the city.

Erol Ibrahim

The row last year was one in a series of incidents, including the gun attack on Keane, which threatened to spark off a new round of lethal violence between the city’s rival criminal factions.

Treacy junior pleaded guilty to assault causing harm and violent affray at a public office, during a clash with members of the 
McCarthy-Dundon clan.

The young thug put on a brave face on social media before being jailed, writing: “I suppose I’ll be seeing ye all in a year or 2 don’t miss me too much, one love bitches”.

Last November his cousin Joe Keane was sentenced to one year in prison for his part in the same fight.

Ibrahim was described as not being the main instigator of the fight, which happened when the rival groups ran into each by accident at a social welfare office on Dominic Street in the city in April last year.

The offices had to be locked to protect the staff and members of the public inside, “such was the level of aggression shown”. Members of the public had to duck for cover from the violent confrontation.

Treacy Jnr was seen as the aggressor during the row, in which he stripped off his top as they moved out into the street to fight.

His father Owen Treacy senior was lucky to survive after being stabbed several times in an ambush in which gang boss Kieran Keane was murdered.

At Joe Keane’s hearing last November Detective Garda David Bourke said that the mob “spilled out onto the road to fight”, in which the two factions were “hitting off cars”.

Keane (27), has previously served time for manslaughter in which a gang beat another man to death.

Last year Owen Treacy Jnr had also been involved in an incident in which he believed an attempt was being made on his life.

A garda told how he had to take evasive action to avoid a BMW 520 being driven by Tracey junior at St Mary’s Park in January 2015.

The teenager’s solicitor later told a court that his client had been fleeing from people who were threatening his life.

Tensions between the rival factions had Gardaí on high alert in the city last year especially after the attempt to murder Christy Keane.