A MAJOR underworld figure under threat from the New IRA has gone on the run after being released on bail on money-laundering charges.
Paschal Kelly (46), originally from Coolock in Dublin, was recently released on bail in Northern Ireland. Kelly was arrested by the PSNI with his close associate, who we can only identify as ‘Mr Big’ for legal reasons, who is also under threat from the New IRA.
Dissidents targeted the pair following the murder of terror boss Alan Ryan in September last year. Mr Big and Kelly were arrested in Tyrone in February. PSNI officers recovered more than €70,000 following follow-up searches of a flat in Enniskillen, along with a number of cars, false passports and 24 mobile phones.
A PSNI officer said of Mr Big and Kelly: “We believe these people are leaders of a criminal gang”. Judge Gerard Trainor described Kelly as a “seasoned, practiced criminal” with convictions for robbery and escaping lawful custody.
Mr Big was released on bail earlier this year and came back to Dublin. He signed on at a Dublin Garda station as part of his bail conditions, but has moved stations twice because of potential threats to his life. He was recently arrested and charged by gardai in relation to a separate matter.
Kelly was recently granted bail in the north, but he was electronically tagged. He claimed he was going to live in a house in Ballyjamesduff, Co. Cavan. However, the tag was removed and he is not at that address. Gardai carried out searches in Balbriggan, north Dublin, but have yet to locate him.
As well as the charges in the North there are also bench warrants out for his arrest in the Republic for other matters. Gardai fear he has access to false identities and may have travelled abroad. A source said: “There is a serious threat against him from the IRA and there is a strong possibility he’s gone for good.”
In April gardai from Bailieborough uncovered a multi-million euro heroin and weapons haul at a derelict house outside Virginia. The drugs, with a potential street value of €3 million, along with an Uzi submachine gun and ammunition, were believed to be linked to associates of Kelly.
The Sunday World has previously unmasked Kelly as a tiger kidnapping suspect. He has also been a major target for the Criminal Assets Bureau. Kelly survived two attempts on his life in the 1990s and has more than 30 convictions for offences including robbery, burglary and drugs.