Hutch ally’s murder may lead to paramilitaries targeting Kinahans

Analysis: The killing of Noel Kirwan risks drawing republican groups into gang feud

Garda forensics experts at the scene of the murder of Noel Kirwan in the Ronanstown area of west Dublin. Photograph: Caroline Quinn/PA Wire

Garda forensics experts at the scene of the murder of Noel Kirwan in the Ronanstown area of west Dublin. Photograph: Caroline Quinn/PA Wire

 

On the face of it, the murder of Noel Kirwan (62) looks like the shooting down of another man simply because he was a friend of the Hutch family, specifically Gerry Hutch. That characterisation, while true, is overly simplistic. Two things are happening here.

Firstly, the key people Gerry Hutch turned to for counsel are now dead, all murdered in recent months by the gang headed by Christy Kinahan.

Secondly, the Kinahan gang is risking drawing paramilitary groups into the feud on the Hutch side.

The veteran criminal, known as The Monk, is from the north inner city, but has long lived with his wife and children in the north Dublin middle-class suburb of Clontarf.

Never embroiled in any form of feuding before the current dispute, he headed the Hutch family’s efforts to come to a deal with the Kinahan gang in Spain when it wanted to kill his nephew Gary Hutch.

Gary Hutch (34) had been a member of the Kinahan gang but fell foul of the group when it accused him of providing information to the police and he tried to shoot one of the Kinahans.

The Hutch family back in Dublin tried to agree a deal to spare his life and a sum of €200,000 was agreed, to be paid by the Hutches to the Kinahans.

After the cash was paid over however and Gary Hutch returned to Spain, having fled for his own safety, he was shot dead.

A combination of his murder and the reneging on the deal to spare him began what has become known as the Kinahan-Hutch feud.

Gerry Hutch and Christy Kinahan snr are regarded by both gangs as the ultimate targets in this feud.

In February, Gerry Hutch’s brother Eddie, the man whom he consulted for advice, was shot dead.

The following month, veteran cigarette smuggler Noel Duggan was shot dead outside his house in Co Meath.

Like Eddie Hutch, he was a key figure to whom Gerry Hutch was very close and by whom he was regularly advised. Now, with the murder of Kirwan, another adviser and close friend of Gerry Hutch’s is dead.

The Kinahan gang has proven unsuccessful to date in striking directly against Gerry Hutch, although it has sought him out in Spain a number of times.

Unable to get at him, it has chosen what it regards as the next best thing – those to whom he was closest and on whom he counted for counsel.

Kirwan’s murder also raises the very real prospect of dissident republicans now targeting the Kinahan gang.

Paramilitary groupings

North inner city Dublin has always contained a curious mix of criminal and paramilitary groupings.

Gerry Hutch was suspected of a number of major armed robberies in Marino and Coolock in north Dublin in the 1990s.

Gardaí are convinced he did those with the blessing and support of the Dublin Provisional IRA in return for some of the proceeds.

When criminal gangs smuggled 40ft container loads of counterfeit and duty-free cigarettes through Dublin Port and stole other valuable cargo from dockside, they did so working hand in glove with the IRA.

As the anti-drugs vigilante movement emerged in the 1980s and 1990s in inner city Dublin, and to an extent in the vast council estates in the west of the city, they were infiltrated by members of the criminal-paramilitary coalition.

Like Gerry Hutch, Kirwan was a man comfortable in that world.

However, while Hutch’s relationship with the republican movement was a marriage of convenience, Kirwan was regarded by gardaí as being much closer to the IRA and was a vigilante in the 1990s.

Gardaí say the fact that Kirwan was a bona fide republican and some younger men very close to him are members of proscribed organisations could be very significant.

At this point, the term “feud” is probably stretching credulity as all but one of the 11 murders to date have been carried out by the Kinahans.

The Garda believes that while the Hutch side is suffering an onslaught, it has been aided by dissident republicans, specifically in the sourcing of high powered firearms.

One of the men shot dead on the Hutch side was Michael Barr, the dissident republican gunned down in the Sunset House Pub in Summerhill, Dublin, in April.

Now that Kirwan has also been shot dead, and that some of those most grief-stricken by his murder are active dissident republicans in Dublin, that may draw the movement into this dispute.

If that were to happen; there would emerge a coalition of the Hutch faction and dissidents going up against the Kinahan gang.

This would even out the dispute in terms of the murderous capabilities of both sides and would result in a very prolonged round of tit-for-tat murders; though that looks assured already.