A crime boss who changed with the times
The details of the case seem almost quaint when set against the hauls of up to €10 million captured in recent years. The technology now at the Garda’s disposal lets gardaí eavesdrop on mobile-phone calls and read text messages without needing physical access to the phones they are monitoring.
The man who led the 1992 investigation was Martin Callinan, then a detective sergeant and now the Garda Commissioner.The links to Cuba and Colombia set out in court were very exotic in the Dublin of the early 1990s, and the trial was heavily covered in the newspapers.
When Kelly emerged from jail for this crime, just over a decade ago, the landscape had changed significantly. The Provisional IRA now had little influence, and the economic boom had fuelled a huge drugs trade.
Members of John Gilligan’s gang had shot dead the journalist Veronica Guerin, resulting in the jailing of key members, the dismantling of the gang’s cannabis network and the setting up of the Criminal Assets Bureau.
The drugs market was now nationwide, and new gangs of young men in parts of Limerick and Cork had cornered much of the regional market.
In Dublin, Brian Rattigan and his enemies were beginning their bloody feud in the suburbs of Crumlin and Drimnagh, and Shane Coates and the Sugg and Glennon brothers – all of whom have since been shot dead – had become the group of Blanchardstown drug dealers and killers known as the Westies.
In Finglas, in north Dublin, Martin Marlo Hyland was running the biggest drugs gang in the State and the Bradley brothers, Alan and Wayne, were emerging as prolific armed robbers.
Scale of death
The Crumlin and Drimnagh gangs, Hyland’s group, the Westies and the Keane-Collopy and rival McCarthy Dundon gangs in Limerick have all engaged in feuds in which dozens have died – a scale of death unheard of before Kelly was jailed for cocaine offences.
So Kelly – robber, drug dealer, forger and gang mentor – became a sort of paid consultant to many of the new breed in Dublin. Kelly was especially close to Eamon Dunne, who took over the large drugs and robbery gang in Finglas after Marlo Hyland’s murder and who himself would be shot dead in April 2010.
In the end it was that consultancy work that saw Kelly shot dead this week. When the Real IRA in Dublin began trying to extort money from some of the Dublin gangs, a number of the rival groups joined forces to fight off the well-structured dissidents.
The coalition led to the murder of Alan Ryan in September. The Real IRA believed Kelly was central to organising that killing and was also frustrated that Kelly had himself refused to pay up when extortion demands were made of him.
They had tried to kill him two years ago outside his house on Furry Park Road in Killester, north Dublin, but the gun jammed and the gunman ran off.
But with Kelly very much under suspicion for aiding the killers of Alan Ryan, he once again rose to the top of Real IRA’s list of targets. After more than four decades in the thick of organised crime, he was shot dead outside his Dublin home on Tuesday afternoon.