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Net closing in on 'mastermind' behind 2005 murder of Dundalk mother Irene White

Two men who admitted to the murder are serving life sentences but the man who ordered the contract killing remains at large

Irene White's body was found by her mother

Maeve Sheehan

A garda file on the suspected “mastermind” behind the murder of Irene White is being finalised for the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The submission of the file to the DPP marks the culmination of a prolonged investigation into the last remaining suspect for the crime.

Two men who admitted to the murder are serving life sentences but the man who ordered the contract killing remains at large.

Ms White’s family has repeatedly called for the man who commissioned the murder to be brought to justice.

Kevin Winters, solicitor for Ms White’s late sister and for her brother-in-law, confirmed this weekend that the family had met An Garda Síochána for a briefing on developments in the case.

Ms White, a mother of three, was stabbed to death 34 times as she washed dishes at her home in Drogheda, Co Louth, in 2005. She had returned from dropping her two youngest children to school.

Her elderly mother found Ms White’s body on the floor of her kitchen in a pool of blood and still wearing her orange washing-up gloves.

The killing remained unsolved until the garda cold case team took on the inquiry several years later, ultimately leading to new leads that solved the case.

Gardaí tracked down Anthony Lambe after an old girlfriend claimed he had confessed to the crime. Lambe, from Castleblayney, Co Monaghan, was then a mature student at Maynooth University.

He told gardaí he was a student and working-part time as a bouncer for a security firm owned by Niall Power of Riverstown, Dundalk. Lambe was struggling with debt and drinking and taking drugs, and said Power offered him €25,000 to murder Ms White. In the end, Power paid Lambe €2,000 for murdering the woman.

Lambe was convicted of Ms White’s murder in January 2018. Power turned himself in and pleaded guilty to her murder in 2019.

Anthony Lambe is serving life for the murder of Irene White. Picture by Ciara Wilkinson

Power, who was described in court as a “family friend” of Irene White’s, claimed he was acting on the instructions of the “mastermind” who wanted her dead.

Both killers initially declined to provide statements to An Garda Síochána implicating the “mastermind” because of the repercussions that could have on them in prison.

However, detectives have met Power in prison to discuss the case over the past two years, and have urged him to make a statement implicating the mastermind so they can include it in their file to the DPP.

The family of Ms White has consistently called on gardaí to continue to hunt down and bring to justice the man who was ultimately responsible for her murder.

Her sister, Anne Delcassian, who campaigned tirelessly for her sister, died of cancer soon after Power was sentenced to life for murder. It was Mrs Delcassian who had urged the garda Serious Crime Review Team to take on the case.

Niall Power is serving life for the murder of Irene White. Picture by Paddy Cummins

In a statement to the Sunday World before her death, Mrs Delcassian told how her sister had been threatened and reported the threats to gardaí.

“She was worried for her own safety, and that of her children. Irene was frightened, even more so when the security gates at her home were disabled before her murder,” she said.

“As someone known to Irene, Niall Power abused a position of trust. Niall Power worked in security, and Irene wrote in her diaries that she pleaded with Niall Power to fix the security gates.

“Instead, knowing the gates were disabled, he organised for Anthony Lambe to attack Irene at home. It’s difficult to believe that Niall Power then continued to live in Irene’s home town, nearby to her motherless children, carrying on as normal over the last decade.”

Anne Delcassian, sister of Irene White. Picture by Gerry Mooney

After the murder, she said, Power chose Lambe to be the godfather to his baby. “What sort of person organises the murder of a family friend, and then chooses the murderer to be their child’s moral compass?”

Mrs Delcassian condemned the “pact of silence surrounding this case; between Anthony Lambe, Niall Power, and those others responsible for Irene’s murder and protecting her killers”.

Anne’s husband Kenny has continued his late wife’s campaign to have the mastermind behind the crime brought to book.

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