call to war  | 

Nicola Tallant book extract: Tensions rise in Dublin after Gary Hutch murder

'Is that Nicola Tallant? There was an attempted shooting last night. At the Red Cow. You need to know this...'
Nicola Tallant - Clash of the Clans book

Nicola Tallant - Clash of the Clans book

By Nicola Tallant

In November, just two months after the murder of Hutch, MGM were back in Dublin at a 'Second Coming' event in the National Stadium, headlining Jamie Conlan with a host of boxers out in force and every seat full.

Drama at the press conference ensured the headlines. Peter McDonagh's opponent accused him of not being Irish, while Sean Turner claimed he was in good shape because there was "no chipper or kebab shop" in Spain. Turner's pal, the Olympic hopeful Paddy Barnes, stepped in for a mock face-off when his opponent didn't show up.

For many, the highlight of the night was also (Jamie) Kavanagh's much-anticipated first fight in Ireland. Again, there was a big divide between news and sports reporting and the show was hailed a triumph for MGM given its short time in business.

In post-fight interviews (Matthew) Macklin promised there would be regular shows in Dublin so that boxers could build up their fan base and get television exposure for their sport.

Jamie Conlan with Daniel Kinahan (R) at MGM Marbella

Jamie Conlan with Daniel Kinahan (R) at MGM Marbella

Speaking about the work he had done to get the show on the road, he insisted that he wasn't the one to be thanked. "To be honest, Daniel deserves most of the credit and also Anto as they're the ones who are really hands-on and deal with everything day to day. I give my opinion and advice but they're the lads that are making it happen."

But as boxing correspondents hailed the show a huge success and began to talk about hopes for another day out in the capital, the dark shadow of organised crime moved in over the festivities.

It was around lunchtime in the newsroom when the phone rang. "Is that Nicola Tallant?" the voice asked. "There was an attempted shooting last night. At the Red Cow. You need to know this."

The Red Cow is a big hotel on the outskirts of the capital, famous as the stop-off point for people from the midlands, south and west of Ireland visiting Dublin.

They descend on the Red Cow en-masse during Gaelic Season, on Black Friday and often for concerts and events like the garden show 'Bloom'.

Daniel Kinahan

Daniel Kinahan

Located at the intersection of the N7 which travels from Dublin to Limerick and Cork and the M50, which circles the city, it is busy and popular with families as much as country music fans.

It is not the sort of place I would have associated with a shooting.

"Excuse me?" I said. "Did you say a shooting?" The caller was nervous but he continued. "It was a big boxing night. Liam Byrne was there. Liam Roe. Kinahan.

"They saw them... in the car park. With wigs and with the gun." The man on the end of the phone certainly had my attention. It wasn't often that a ring-in on a Saturday would be so significant.

"They saw them and they all sped off. That's all I can say. It's bad. It's going to be bad."

Daniel Kinahan (l) and David Byrne

Daniel Kinahan (l) and David Byrne

With that my caller hung up and I sat for a moment with the receiver in my hand. If the information was right and there had been a shooting attempt on Byrne, Roe and particularly one of the Kinahan brothers, this was a serious escalation in tensions around the mob, and the first possible kickback since the murder of Gary Hutch.

I picked up my own phone and tried to establish what I could. I quickly discovered that an incident had indeed been reported to gardaí but there was nobody at the hotel by the time they arrived.

CCTV later confirmed that something had happened in the car park and that a Volvo had arrived and left without the occupants exiting the vehicle. Later, car of a similar make had been found in the Ballyfermot area of the city, abandoned and burned out. It had been red in colour.

Liam Roe

Liam Roe

Gardaí had begun to hear a similar story to what I was piecing together. Liam Roe had possibly stepped outside for a cigarette at some point during a big knees-up and spotted two shadowy figures in a car outside.

Some witnesses and grainy CCTV suggested that a gun, or something that could have been one, may have been produced, but that it didn't fire and the car sped off as panic ensued inside and revellers began to flee.

Later, I learned that Daniel Kinahan was inside and that he had fled to safety in a silver Mercedes G wagon, driven by David Byrne.

The significance of the event and the possibility that an assassin had lain in wait outside was not to be underestimated, and I spent the afternoon ringing contacts, trying to ascertain what this could mean.

The headline over my story the following morning said it all in two words: 'Hits War.' Inside the newspaper, I wrote extensively about the incident. "This is a clear message to the Kinahans: There will be blood," a source had told me.

My story was accompanied by a picture of Daniel Kinahan, taken by our photographer outside the five-star Westbury Hotel off Grafton Street, which we knew was his favourite place to stay when in town.

I often found it extraordinary that we had photographed him and other members of his mob, whose lives were under threat, so frequently and so easily.

We had no inside intelligence on where they would be, we just followed their habits and our gut instincts. Most of the time we got lucky, as they were largely creatures of habit despite all the expensive training they had in counter-surveillance techniques.

Two weeks after he is buried, a jailhouse knife attack is attempted on his older brother 'Del Boy' on the back of a bounty believed to have originated in Spain. As the situation boils over the entire Kinahan mob plan a trip home.

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