NewsCrime Desk

How State and Gardai ignored warnings about Kinahan cartel

Christy Kinahan
Christy Kinahan

The Kinahan Hit List......

It was May 2014 and a city flats complex was in lockdown.

However, the cordons and surveillance and spotters were not put in place by the Gardaí.

Instead, the Oliver Bond flats in the heart of Dublin’s south inner city was effectively sealed off under the control of the country’s number one organised crime gang.

Locals watched on as the same gang that flooded their community with drugs arrived in black limousines and designer suits and shut off entire streets.

Inside the flats, Daniel and Christopher Kinahan were mourning their mother Jean Boylan, a popular and respected member of the inner city community.

Christy Kinahan Jnr at mother's funeral

Outside, the Sunday World was trying to report on what was an extraordinary scene unfolding on the streets of a European capital city.

There was no obvious Garda presence as thugs patrolled like a militia up and down John’s Lane while the funeral was taking place in the nearby Augustinian Church. 

Passersby were intimidated. Our journalists were warned: “F**k off out of here if you know what’s good for you. I’ve been told to pass on that message. And don’t come back around here or there will be trouble.”

We reported the extraordinary takeover of a Dublin neighbourhood the following Sunday.

If then newly-appointed justice minister Frances Fitzgerald and then Acting Garda Commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan needed any early wake-up call as to the growing threat from organised crime, then here was the alarm bell ringing off the chart.

The hotel reception that followed the funeral was lavish, with many guests booked in for the night.

Again there were no gardaí observing as the Kinahan boys and their pals proudly displayed their wealth. Instead, a Sunday World team observed alone from the car park. 

The venue was Dublin’s Regency hotel. 

We wrote then that “newly appointed Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and Acting Garda Commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan now face the major challenge of regaining control over organised crime”. This week we know that challenge was not met. 

Almost two years later there were still no gardaí watching when a hit squad pulled in front of our team, in the same car park, at a much-publicised boxing event.

They were there to murder Daniel Kinahan.

He fled and instead David Byrne paid the price that too often comes with loyalty to the Kinahans.

It has been clear in the pages of this newspaper for some time that the Costa Cartel had recovered from the setback of 2010 when international police forces snatched them from their beds and led them handcuffed into court as part of Operation Shovel.

It has also been clear that the post-1996 crackdown that successfully saw the Criminal Assets Bureau dismantle John Gilligan’s crime empire was not working against the gang dubbed the ‘Irish Mafia’ by the Spanish Government.

In September 2013 the Sunday World sent an undercover reporting team into the belly of the beast in the exclusive Costa del Sol resort of Puerto Banus.

What we found was extraordinary and disturbing.

Much like what we would later witness in Oliver Bond flats, we saw a small army of cartel members effectively take over the pretty port town to allow their ‘Don’ move freely about. 

They use spotters and counter-surveillance techniques and meet freely with known international criminals to plan business.

After weeks, we eventually snapped the ‘Dapper Don’ Christy Kinahan enjoying dinner at his favourite sushi bar.

In the two years since their show of force at their mother’s funeral, we have reported with increasing alarm how the Kinahans began to travel freely back and forth to Dublin and move around the city with a growing swagger and arrogance.

In November 2014 we photographed the brothers as they cheered on their pal, boxer Matthew Macklin in the 3Arena. We told how they used the visit to hold talks with Limerick criminals.

In July 2015, we snapped the Kinahan brothers and Liam and David Byrne at a boxing weigh-in for another MGM ‘New Beginnings’ boxing night in the National Stadium.

We were able to photograph a €150,000 Mercedes G Wagon and a €200,000 Range Rover belonging to gang members, yet no-one moved to strip them of this unexplained wealth.

Three months later a Sunday World team flying to Spain watched in astonishment as Daniel Kinahan boarded and took a first-class seat among the businessmen and high fliers.

Gary Hutch had been murdered on the Costa del Sol just days earlier.

Clearly, no one in Ireland wanted to talk to Daniel about it – even though it was the spark that led directly to last weekend’s atrocities in the Regency and on Poplar Row, where Eddie Hutch senior was shot nine times in his home because of his surname.

Two months on, Daniel Kinahan was even brazen enough to give his first media interview to a boxing magazine, perversely claiming to be a security consultant.

It’s an arrogance we first witnessed 17 years earlier when we reported on a group of young inner city thugs who clashed with an off-duty garda outside a Dublin dog track.

Among those prosecuted was a teenage Daniel Kinahan – although the charges against him were later dropped.

On the street, among a group of inner city thugs near the Four Courts, he cut a swagger amid the subtle deference of his co-accused pals.

Unnamed, he featured on the front page of the Sunday World as part of ‘The Brat Pack’ – one among a new wave of serious criminals. No-one can say they weren’t warned.

The pattern of showing two fingers to the Irish state and police continued. But it was met by a total absence of the kind of in-your-face policing  that took down John Gilligan and Martin Cahill – the last two heavyweights of organised crime.

David Byrne getting into Mercedes G Wagon

Instead, the cartel was made to feel untouchable. Bulletproof. We had  created a monster, made a murder mob.

On Monday night that monster felt bold enough to send two carloads of armed hitmen across a city in Garda lockdown to murder at will. 

The Garda Commissioner says there was no intelligence of the attack in the Regency.

But that doesn’t explain the lack of surveillance or any overt policing to disrupt the Kinahan Cartel’s ability to meet and plan its business – the business of supplying 90 per cent of the drugs on Irish streets. And the business of murder. 

When Martin ‘the General’ Cahill became a threat to the state he became the focus of the Tango Squad formed specifically to follow him every hour of the day.

Twenty years ago John Gilligan’s crime cartel had become so sure of itself that it crossed another bloody red line in the underworld sand when it murdered Sunday Independent reporter Veronica Guerin.

That shadow horrifically returned this week when two Independent News and Media journalists were warned of threats to their safety from members of the Kinahan crime mafia.

If Christy Kinahan was annoyed at the relentless reporting of this newspaper, he now has what he dislikes most – the full attention of the Irish State and media.

Now it’s time he was ‘Tangoed’, time a Garda force laid low by the death of a thousand cuts and a thousand retirements was equipped to fight back in the manner they did against the Limerick mobs.

Much-vaunted, anti-gangland laws are gathering dust in the Department of Justice. They have been used just once, but never against the Big Fish. The Kinahan Cartel were not Tangoed at the Regency in 2014 or again last week.

The gangsters still believe they are the new untouchables. They can draw comfort from the fact that Gerry Adams – who aspires to be Taoiseach in three weeks’ time – stated this week that: “There is no Gangland.”

Yes Gerry there is. Pick up the Sunday World. Read all about it.