crook of love | 

Aoife McGregor goes public on relationship with Kinahan gangster Graham ‘the Wig’ Whelan

Aoife shared an image of them together in Conor’s Black Forge Inn, days after Whelan’s release from Mountjoy prison

Aoife McGregor and Graham Whelan

Graham ‘the Wig’ Whelan snapped on his release from Mountjoy

Aoife with her brother Conor

Daniel Kinahan© Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Thomas ‘Bomber’ Kavanagh

Aoife McGregor is draped around Whelan in her new WhatsApp profile picture

Graham ‘the Wig’ Whelan with the Black Forge Inn football team

Patrick O'ConnellSunday World

Conor McGregor’s sister Aoife has gone public about her relationship with Kinahan cartel gangster Graham ‘the Wig’ Whelan — sharing an image of them together in her brother’s pub.

The picture is understood to have been taken in Conor McGregor’s Black Forge Inn just days after Whelan’s release from Mountjoy prison on December 21.

“It was taken over Christmas in her brother’s pub after he got out of prison,” a source told the Sunday World.

“It wasn’t exactly a secret that the two of them were close. But posting a picture of them together as her profile picture would suggest she’s fairly serious about him.”

Graham ‘the Wig’ Whelan snapped on his release from Mountjoy

In the image, which Aoife uses as her profile photo on Whatsp, a relaxed looking Whelan (40) is pictured sitting on a couch in the pub, a whiskey on the table in front of him, while stunner Aoife leans in close with one arm draped on his shoulder as the other rests on his leg.

A former senior ranking member of the Kinahan drugs cartel, Whelan had just spent a year in custody after being convicted of money laundering offences, including possession of a €28,000 watch.

Early in his sentence, the Sunday World exclusively revealed he had been visited on a number of occasions by Aoife after they became close friends following the breakdown of her marriage.

It’s understood the pair continued seeing each other after Whelan’s release from custody.

A day after Whelan was released from prison, we photographed him in his dressing robe standing outside his home — after waking from his first night’s sleep as a free man in more than a year.

As well as being close to Aoife, Whelan is also understood to be a friend of her ‘notorious’ brother Conor.

Aoife with her brother Conor

He had previously appeared in a number of photographs with Conor and was pictured by the Sunday World lining out for the Black Forge football team in October 2021.

A self-described ‘dangerous criminal’, Whelan was close pals with cartel figure David Byrne, who was shot dead in the Regency Hotel gun attack in February 2016.

Whelan pleaded guilty in July 2021 to participating in the actions of an organised crime gang by laundering money for the group.

He also pleaded guilty to possession of €1,200 in cash and an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak gentleman’s watch, the proceeds of crime, at the Intercontinental Hotel, Ballsbridge, Dublin, on January 31, 2019.

Whelan further admitted he had paid €2,140 for a three-night stay at the hotel at Room 342, knowing or believing that the money was the proceeds of criminal conduct.

Graham ‘the Wig’ Whelan with the Black Forge Inn football team

At the time of his sentencing in November 2021, his defence counsel Michael Bowman said Whelan had four children, aged between three and 10, and that he was their primary carer following the death of his partner.

Mr Bowman said Whelan had undergone drug and alcohol counselling and that his priority was the upbringing of his children since the passing of their mother.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt noted, however, that Whelan made a number of comments when initially arrested by gardai.

This included him telling them that he got the cash from “up his Swiss roll” and that they could keep it.

He also told detectives “I’m a dangerous criminal” and to “look me up”.

Aoife McGregor is draped around Whelan in her new WhatsApp profile picture

The court heard this was reference to Whelan being jailed for six years over a €1.6m drug seizure at a hotel in Dublin city centre.

The infamous bust, carried out at the Holiday Inn when Whelan was just 17, was seen as the beginning of the Crumlin-Drimnagh feud which led to 16 people being murdered.

Both he and his pal Phillip Griffiths received hefty sentences in relation to the €1.6 million seizure.

Whelan left Ireland in 2009 after the introduction of new gangland laws and moved to the UK where he lived until 2016.

Known as ‘the Wig’, he was a close associate of the Kinahan cartel’s top man in the UK Thomas ‘Bomber’ Kavanagh for years.

Daniel Kinahan© Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

The Intercontinental Hotel room bust, for which Whelan was most recently jailed, led to a Criminal Assets Bureau probe into his affairs and the State’s seizure of €75,000 from him which was judged to be the proceeds of crime.

Documents found during CAB searches following his arrest suggested that he had property in the UK and had been paying a mortgage, which had been transferred to a vulture fund.

It was also heard that Whelan was in possession of a drugs ‘tick list’ and an EncroChat phone at the time of his arrest which happened 18 months before Dutch and French police hacked the network and staged massive arrests across Europe.

Aoife McGregor was previously married to Mark Elliot, who she split from in November 2020.

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