NewsCrime Desk

Gardai on alert as feud between ‘Mr Big’ gang and dissident mob escalates

Vinnie Ryan had his throat cut
Vinnie Ryan had his throat cut

GARDAI are on high alert over the simmering feud between the Real IRA and ‘Mr Big’ gang, which is threatening to spill over into all-out war this year.

This week, Assistant Garda Commissioner John O’Mahony acknowledged there has been serious ongoing “tensions” between dissidents and criminal gangs. 

Gardaí also fear that dissidents will plan attacks to coincide with the anniversary of the 1916 Rising.

Mr Big’s gang were responsible for the murder of RIRA boss Alan Ryan in September 2012 and his gang has clashed with associates of the terror chief on numerous occasions since.

Mr Big

The attempted murder of Alan’s brother Vinnie, in Dublin’s north inner-city last October, was a reminder that the long-running feud has not gone away.

Ryan, whose pregnant partner had been attending a check-up in the nearby Rotunda Hospital, was lucky to escape with relatively minor injuries after a man linked to Mr Big tried to cut his throat on Parnell Square.

Gardaí review the threat to Ryan on a month-by-month basis and it has remained active since his release from prison in 2013, after he was acquitted of firearms charges.

There are also threats against several of his associates, as well as threats against Mr Big and his crew.

Gardaí have thwarted a number of suspected ‘hit’ plots against Ryan involving Mr Big and are putting considerable resources into preventing bloodshed between the two groups.

The most recent incident occurred when Mr Big was seen acting suspiciously near a high-powered car around the corner from Ryan’s house in November.

The car was later found to be registered to a false name and Gardaí suspect Mr Big may have planned to use it as a getaway car in a hit.

Mr Big knows he is also under threat himself. He has had bullet-proof glass and security cameras installed at his parents and girlfriend’s homes.

He is so paranoid about being whacked he hops a wall to go into his partner’s home instead of going in by the front door.

When he is leaving locations he is always picked up by the same associate despite the fact his associate has a driving ban.

The associate was arrested in recent weeks over the murder of Noel Deans (27) who was shot dead in Coolock in January 2010.

Mr Big is also regularly spotted in the company of two other associates - one is a 36-year-old who lives in Swords in north Dublin and the other lives in Rathoath, Co. Meath, but is originally from Darndale.

Other associates of Ryan have also come under threat from Mr Big’s gang in recent years, including Darragh and Dean Evans, Derek Nolan, Alan Ivory and Aaron Nealis.

Derek Nolan

In 2013, Vinnie and Darragh Evans were cleared of possession of an assault rifle and a handgun at Clonshaugh Walk, Coolock, on September 15, 2011 – the very same day in which drugs trafficker Michael ‘Micka’ Kelly was shot dead.

Darragh Evans

Dean Evans is currently out on bail awaiting trial for the murder of former RIRA man Peter Butterly, who was shot dead in Gormanstown, Co. Meath, on March 6, 2013.

Dean Evans

Sharif Kelly from Balbriggan, is also awaiting trial over the Butterly murder and has been warned by Gardaí of a credible threat to his life.

A statement purporting to come from a newly-reformed Dublin brigade of RIRA, released after the attack on Vinnie Ryan, claimed the streets would “turn red” with the blood of Mr Big’s gang.

It also hit out at infighting within republican circles.

Detective Sergeant Tom Carey with an improvised rocket launcher 

However, Derek Nolan hit out at the statement, saying: “To be blaming republicans for an attack on a well-known republican can only be devicive (sic) and an attempt to cause friction.

“To talk of attacks, revenge and rivers of blood is madness and ill informed and an uneducated reaction from people with a gang mentality.”

Despite his protestations, there has been serious infighting in republican circles since Alan Ryan’s death.

However, Gardaí are well aware dissidents still pose a significant threat and have access to weapons.

This week Gardaí displayed an arsenal of weapons seized by officers investigating dissident terrorists in the past two years. 

They included AK47 assault rifles, sniper rifles, rockets, semtex, mortars, handguns grenades and large amounts of ammunition. Many of the weapons were previously in the hands of the Provisional IRA, but were taken by dissidents before they could be decommissioned.

Dissident republican weaponry 

Assistant Commissioner O’Mahony said this week that many dissidents are involved in organised crime, extorting money from drug dealers and businesses and that has caused ongoing “tensions” in the criminal world.

Gardaí had significant success in targeting dissidents in 2015 due to surveillance and intelligence operations.

They arrested 31 people for terror offences last year and 22 appeared before the Special Criminal Court.