NewsCrime Desk

Small-time hood held over feud-related gun murder

Noel Kirwan, left, with Gerry 'the Monk' Hutch
Noel Kirwan, left, with Gerry 'the Monk' Hutch

A SMALL-time hood held yesterday over the feud-related murder of Noel ‘Duck Egg’ Kirwan is suspected of playing a “central role” in the shooting, it emerged last night.

The thug (25), who has drug-related convictions, was arrested along with his female partner following a swoop in Rush, Co Dublin.

Sources told the Herald that officers are investigating if the arrested man, who is originally from Crumlin, was present when Kirwan (62) was shot dead on the evening of December 22, 2016 – the 11th murder in the Kinahan-Hutch feud.

The couple were being held at Lucan and Blanchardstown Garda Stations last night under Section 50 of the Criminal Justice Act.

It is understood that a number of other properties were searched in raids by armed gardai yesterday morning. The male suspect has around 10 previous convictions for offences including possession of drugs, assault and public order matters. He is not considered to be a member of the Kinahan cartel.

Sources say that he he could have gotten involved in the killing because of a debt over his drug habit.

“This is yet another example of the cartel using low-level criminals to get involved in very serious crimes on their behalf,” a senior source said last night.

“This individual would not have any serious links to the cartel and was not previously considered a serious player but he is now being questioned about murder.”

The source added that gardai believe that yesterday’s arrest is “highly significant”.

Kirwan (62) was shot in his driveway shortly after 5pm last December 22 as he sat in a car at his home on St Ronan’s Drive in Clondalkin. His partner Bernadette Murray, who was also in the vehicle at the time, escaped unscathed. Several shots were fired at the victim, including to his head, before the assailant ran to a waiting van, which had another man in the driver’s seat.

A white Peugeot Partner van was found burnt out a short distance away at the Neilstown Shopping Centre. There have been no major firearms incidents in the capital’s deadly feud since the murder of Kirwan.

Since the shooting, gardai have made a number of significant firearms and drugs seizures from the Kinahan cartel, who are suspected of being behind the murder of Kirwan.

The childhood friend of Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch was a prominent campaigner against illegal drugs in Dublin’s north inner city two decades ago. It is understood that the Kinahan cartel identified Kirwan as a “legitimate target” when he was spotted walking with The Monk at the Eddie Hutch funeral in February of last year.

Eddie had been murdered by the gang in a revenge attack for the Regency Hotel bloodbath. A disguised Hutch came out of hiding to attend the funeral, walking side-by-side with Kirwan.

Gardai have also been investigating if he was shot dead after attempting to mediate in a dispute between the Kinahan cartel and their own mob banker.

Back in the 1990s, Kirwan became known for speaking out against the drug trade in the north of the capital. Duck Egg was also a close friend of James ‘Jaws’ Byrne (69), the father of slain Kinahan gangster David Byrne (33).

A source stated that Kirwan and Jaws would have attended several weddings together, and were close friends for several years.

Another son of James Byrne, Liam (36), is a leading member of the Kinahan cartel. 

The murdered man had close links to the IRA and was previously charged with firearms offences, but later cleared by the courts.

Kirwan was cleared of having a firearm or imitation firearm with intent to intimidate a person at Ballybough Road on September 17, 1996. His arrest followed a garda investigation into anti-drugs activists with links to the Provisional IRA.

He moved out of the Summerhill area of the north inner city to Kilbarrack a number of years ago.

In the years before his murder, he had settled in Ronanside with his partner Bernadette.

Speaking on RTE’s Crimecall in January, his son Kristopher and daughter Donna insisted that their father had done nothing to warrant the attack. “Why did they take his life?” asked Donna.

“I can’t understand it at all.

“What did they think he was involved in?”