NewsCrime Desk

Garda chopper snoops on bare knuckle bouts

Crime DeskBy Eamon Dillon
The fights were observed from above by a garda chopper
The fights were observed from above by a garda chopper

IRELAND’s flying squad got a ringside seat for a brutal bare-knuckle bust-up between rival traveller fighters.

The Garda helicopters were called in as a huge security operation was mounted during the hard-fought contests

Checkpoints were in operation in Co. Louth as two fights went ahead on a halting site in Drogheda last week.

One Garda helicopter is clearly heard overhead and is also visible in videos of the fights posted online, as the fighters brawl on regardless.

The choppers are equipped with hi-tech video cameras mounted on stabilisers that can record details from long distances.

The fight was attended by a large crowd of spectators, including several men from the wider settled community, according to sources.

“Cars were searched and the helicopter was there the whole time. They know everyone who was there,” a source told the Sunday World.

“There was a lot of people there watching who aren’t travellers.”

The fighters were all members of the wider Dublin-based Stokes clan, who opted to settle a dispute with two separate fights.

A number of Sunday World sources also claim gangland figure Paul Rice was among those who attended the fights.

The Tallaght-based gangster has links to criminals among the travelling community, according to sources, and is also a fight fan.

A convicted bank robber, he has also been known to act as an enforcer for the feared Kinahan mob.

Another spectator was Joe Joyce junior, who shook hands with the fighters after one of the bouts.

The hardman brawler is no stranger to bare-knuckle fights, but on this occasion was only there to watch.

He has recently been involved in series of videos in which he and Simey McGinley have set down a challenge to fight for a €50,000 purse.

It was claimed that a dispute broke out among some spectators which resulted in a shotgun being produced.

However, sources said no shots were fired at any stage during what was described as brief stand-off.

It’s not the first time a Garda chopper has been on hand for a traveller bare-knuckle fight.

During a scrap in London between ‘Mad Mikey’ Quinn McDonagh and Paul Joyce, a police helicopter appeared overhead.

The fight featured in the documentary Knuckle, and Quinn McDonagh is now serving life for the brutal murder of his wife while he was pumped up on steroids.

Like last week’s gathering in Drogheda, the fighters and spectators weren’t bothered by the overhead presence of the police at the time.

The Garda helicopter is used to help co-ordinate operations on the ground, as well as to gather evidence.

In Ireland, there have been a number of prosecutions of people caught taking part in bare-knuckle fights.

A contest between Paddy ‘Jaws’ Ward and Barney ‘the Gorilla’ McGinley saw both men end up in the courts.

They famously clashed in 2008 in a vicious bare-knuckle encounter in the Irish midlands, in which Big Joe Joyce and Paddy Doherty acted as fair play men.


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