NewsCrime Desk

Face of planned target in botched city-centre gangland shooting revealed

Keith Murtagh, the intended target of the botched shooting
Keith Murtagh, the intended target of the botched shooting

A young father-of-three was shot dead by a reckless hitman who unleashed a hail of gunfire in broad daylight as he tried to assassinate a close associate of the Hutch mob.

The fifth feud-related murder this year is believed to have been orchestrated by the Kinahan gang, and claimed the life of a 24-year-old bystander.

Gardai believe that north inner-city criminal Keith Murtagh (32) was meant to be the actual target of yesterday's savage fatal shooting but Martin O' Rourke was shot at least twice in the face instead.

Mr O'Rourke had been living in sheltered accommodation for homeless people in the Halston Street area of the capital's northside.

He had a history with drugs but had no involvement in the bitter gang war that has now claimed five lives.

Murtagh (left), carrying the coffin of feud victim Gary Hutch with brother Patrick Hutch (centre)

It also comes just days after it emerged that garda overtime - sanctioned in the wake of the gangland attack at the Regency Hotel last February - has been stopped, despite feud tensions running high.

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald is now under mounting pressure to release another round of emergency funding to combat gang violence.

The latest incident unfolded close to Noctor's pub, on Sheriff Street in Dublin's north inner city, at around 12.25pm.

It is understood that Mr O'Rourke was in the Sheriff Street area to buy drugs.

The gunman ran towards Keith Murtagh - but in the confusion he shot up to six times, causing Mr O'Rourke fatal injuries. The killer then left the scene on a bicycle and dumped the small black handgun in a bin on Sheriff Street Lower.

Sources have revealed that Murtagh is "very friendly" with some of the criminals who are suspected of carrying out the Regency Hotel gun attack, in which Kinahan cartel member David Byrne was shot dead over two months ago.

It is believed that Murtagh's close relationship to those behind that attack is the reason the Kinahan cartel hired a 25-year-old-criminal to murder him yesterday - but he shot the wrong man

Gardai located the weapon within minutes of the murder.

They have identified a chief suspect and it is believed he has worked as a 'gun for hire' for the Kinahan cartel.

He has previously been arrested by gardai investigating the slaying of Michael 'Mad Mickey' Devoy (41) in 2014.

Sources say the hitman is just one of a network of young thugs who are prepared to kill for money for the Kinahans.

It is understood that a friend of the intended victim contacted gardai asking for an escort out of the area, and he was in hiding last night.

Murtagh is extremely well-known to gardai because of his involvement in crime. He is very close to jailed killer Derek 'Del Boy' Hutch.

Derek 'Del Boy' Hutch

Both Murtagh and Hutch were involved in a botched cash-in-transit robbery in Lucan in May, 2009, in which Murtagh was shot and seriously wounded by gardai, while fellow criminal Gareth Molloy (27) was shot dead.

In July, 2010, Murtagh, of Mariner's Port, Sheriff Street Lower, Dublin, pleaded guilty to attempted robbery and possession of a weapon with intent to endanger life at Foxboro Road, Lucan, on May 15, 2009, and was jailed for eight years.

Yesterday's killing in broad daylight happened less than 50 metres away from Sheriff Youth Centre, where children were about to arrive.

Superintendent Kevin Gralton said: "An innocent bystander getting shot, if that is the case, of course it's a low."

Chairperson of the Dublin City joint policing committee, Daithi de Roiste, called for more resources and a long-term plan.

"We seem to have a government by press release and until we start pumping resources in, this lawlessness is going to exist on the streets of our city.

"We have criminal gangs operating above the law and nobody can seem to get it under control."

Chairperson of the Policing Authority Josephine Feehily said this week that gardaí had been "very successful" recently in the fight against gang crime.

However, Mr de Roiste questioned her statements: "If anybody thinks they are doing such a good job, why are there people being shot every other week? It's an absolute disgrace that this is allowed to happen in our city."

A spokesman for the Department of Justice did not respond when asked if extra funding would be made available.

"The Government moved decisively to strengthen the resources available to gardai to deal with the serious armed crime through a special ring-fenced additional allocation of €5m, as well as steps to establish a dedicated Armed Support Unit in Dublin," he said.

Via Herald/