The claim was made during recordings of conversations between Gerry Hutch and Jonathan Dowdall played in the Special Criminal Court
The Hutch tapes, which were played to the Special Criminal Court this week during Hutch’s trial for the murder of David Byrne at the Regency Hotel in 2016, names Gallagher, nicknamed ‘Fluff’, among a host of paramilitaries that Hutch or Jonathan Dowdall spoke about during a 10-hour journey from Dublin to Belfast and Strabane.
“He’s the main leader of the INLA,” Hutch tells Dowdall.
“He was threatening that he’d kill Byrne, the aul one and the aul fella.”
Gallagher was 16-years-old when he was arrested for planting a bomb in the British Legion hall in Strabane, Co Tyrone.
He served eight years in jail for the 1975 attack, for which he continues to deny involvement.
He was later jailed and served 10 years in the Maze Prison for planting a no-warning INLA bomb in a Strabane pub frequented by security force members.
In the tapes, Hutch makes his remarks after he and Dowdall discuss the funeral of David Byrne.
Daniel Kinahan, Hutch states, commanded everyone to go to the funeral of Byrne and warned people not to attend Gary Hutch’s funeral the previous September.
The tapes are made up of conversations between Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch and Dowdall in his Toyota Landcruiser as the veteran gangster meets with representatives in Belfast and later the ‘three wise men’ in Strabane.
Among a host of paramilitaries named during the tapes is the unidentified ‘Wee’ who operates as a fixer for Dowdall in the meetings.
It was also revealed how Tallaght thug Paul Rice was sent packing by Northern paramilitaries when he approached them as a representative of the Kinahan cartel, according to the tapes.
The drug dealer, described as ‘Ricer’ by Hutch, was told that Daniel Kinahan would have to present himself for any peace talks between the two groups which the ‘Provos’ were attempting to broker.
In another segment of the tapes, The Monk claims Rice’s brother was a police officer and would access Pulse – the Garda computer database – if Hutch accounted for his movements to two detectives who were waiting for him at Dublin Airport days before the secret recordings.
“It’s a terrible state of affairs,” he told Dowdall.
Paul Rice was just one of the many names read out in court this week where a complex network of Provos in Belfast, Tyrone, Derry and Donegal were detailed as meeting with The Monk as he attempted to encourage the ‘Northern Command’ to put Daniel Kinahan in his place and broker a ceasefire.
The Sunday World can reveal that Rice had a chequered history with the mob and had once been sent back to Ireland from Spain as an enforcer as the mob called in all bad debts.
His best friend, Gerard ‘Hatchet’ Kavanagh, was murdered by the Kinahan mob in September 2014, and months later his younger brother Paul Kavanagh (27) was assassinated as part of the same internal cartel row.
Rice had carried Hatchet’s coffin despite the fact that few mob members had attended his funeral. He was isolated and living in fear that he would be targeted next.
However, Rice’s links to INLA godfather Paul ‘Jaws’ Kelly had had ensured he was still useful to the mob, who hired out a number of the terror group members to Kinahan to carry out feud murders.
Kelly had fallen out with members of the northern wing of the INLA, including Gerard Mackin, when he gave ‘Red’ Gar Byrne a leadership position over him.
Byrne was one of many paramilitaries that lived for a period of time in Jim Mansfield Jnr’s family estate at Saggart, Co Dublin.
Belfast native Mackin, who believed he was in line for the job, was furious and moved a small group of his own associates away from Kelly, setting up a New INLA cell. Mackin also went into the employ of the Kinahan mob for a period of time.
Paul Kelly has a conviction for membership of the INLA.
He was arrested in Dundalk with a car full of garda uniforms which had been stolen. He is one of the most feared and experienced terror chiefs in Ireland and remains on good terms with other paramilitary cells, including a number of veteran Provos.
Among other names that featured prominently in the course of the 10-hour long recordings was ‘Wee’ and ‘Fish’, who Dowdall said had a house in Finglas.
‘Wee’, Dowdall explains, failed to recognise the IRA ceasefire and continued to operate as a terrorist after the Good Friday Agreement.
He was one of the men that met with and fixed the meeting between Hutch and ‘three wise men’ on a laneway in Strabane where The Monk was guaranteed that he and his family were ‘under protection.’
Hutch and Dowdall were recorded after the meeting discussing the Provos’ approach to Daniel Kinahan, which Hutch said would be with an ‘iron fist.’
“Their mentality is different to ours,” he told Dowdall. “They want to dictate themselves with an iron fist. They don’t want to take advice off us.”