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Gangster Patrick Irwin’s associates targeted as gardai seize six ‘dangerous dogs’

“In these cases the animals were being used to intimidate and frighten people,” a senior source said.

Patrick Irwin. File image

Gardaí took part in operation in Sligo and Ballymote where six dogs were seized.

Ken FoySunday World

Close associates of on-the-run gangster Patrick Irwin were among those targeted as part of an operation involving Gardaí, Sligo County Council and the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA).

Gardai said that last Friday’s operation was targeted at persons suspected of owning, using and breeding restricted breeds of dangerous dogs and it led to the seizure of six dogs.

“Some of the people who were targeted in this operation would have very close links to Patrick Irwin. In these cases the animals were being used to intimidate and frighten people,” a senior source said.

“The issue of criminals having these type of frankly dangerous attack dogs is becoming a bigger issue not just in Sligo but across the country – they are using these animals for their own criminal ends,” the source added.

It is expected that other garda operations targeting the owners of dangerous dogs will be put in place in the coming weeks on a nationwide scale.

Sligo criminal Irwin remains on the run and is suspected of being currently based in Spain.

Gardai want to arrest the gangland criminal for the alleged assault of a well known and now deceased barrister in an incident in which the lawyer’s car was also stolen.

Former garda-turned-lawyer Alan Toal’s body was discovered in his home in November where he had been living in fear after being allegedly attacked by Irwin in Tullamore, Co Offaly last August.

Gardaí took part in operation in Sligo and Ballymote where six dogs were seized.

Foul play was quickly ruled out in the death of Mr Toal who lived near Arklow, Co Wicklow.

In an interview with the Irish Independent a fortnight after the incident, Mr Toal said his assailant threatened to kill him and burn down his home if he made a complaint to gardaí.

Mr Toal said despite the alleged threat, he had no hesitation in making a statement to gardaí. He said that if such behaviour was tolerated it would "erode the entire fabric of the criminal justice system".

Mr Toal did not name Irwin, but gardaí are investigating claims the criminal headbutted and punched him in the restaurant of the Bridge House Hotel in Tullamore, Co Offaly, on August 18 before fleeing in the barrister's Porsche Panamera.

Despite Mr Toal’s death, gardai still hope to prosecute Irwin as the lawyer provided them with an eight-page statement about what transpired.

It is understood that convicted drug dealer Irwin fled the country shortly after the assault but his gang continue to be significant players in the drugs scene nationally.

“They have been using these attack dogs but it is important to note that not everyone targeted in last week’s operation has links to Irwin,” a senior source said.

A total of 14 premises were searched last Friday. During the course of the search, multiple animal health and welfare notices were issued by the ISPCA.

A number of detections were made in relation to the Control of Dogs Act and non-compliance of regulations under the Microchipping of Dogs Regulations, 2015.

Six dogs were seized during the course of the search operation including one German Shepard Malamute, four American Staffordshire Terriers and one mixed-breed dog.

The dogs are currently in the care of the ISPCA and are receiving medical attention.

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