Murdered Athy man was prominent Republican

Larry Keane (56) had served time after explosive twice the size of Omagh bomb found in car


A man who died in the early hours of this morning after being found badly beaten in Athy, Co Kildare was a prominent member of the Republican movement who had convictions for bombing and remained supportive of dissident republicanism in recent years.

Larry Keane, a 56-year-old father of six, who served in the Army from 1974 to 1980 including a stint in Lebanon, was found unconscious with serious head injuries in a laneway in Athy at 11.50pm last night.

Paramedics treated him at the scene before he was taken by ambulance to Naas General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 5am.

In 1998 he was caught be gardai driving a car bomb twice the size of the Omagh bomb onto a car ferry in Dun Laoghaire, south Dublin.

The bomb was bound for England but Keane from Cloney, Athy, claimed at the time he was transporting it for payment and denied he was a member of any illegal organisation.

Last September he was a prominent figure among mourners at the funeral in Donaghmede, north Dublin, of Real IRA leader in Dublin Alan Ryan who was shot dead.

A large amount of blood was visible in the spot where his body was found and the laneway was sealed off immediately gardai arrived. The laneway underwent a forensic examination yesterday by members of the Garda Technical Bureau.

While the results of a post mortem on the remains of Keane have not been officially released, Garda sources said the dead man had suffered catastrophic injuries to the back of his head and was either kicked to death or beaten by somebody using a blunt weapon.

A number of witnesses have report sightings of the dead man up to around 11.30pm, suggesting he had been attacked only shortly before his body was found.

The laneway where he was found bloodied and unconscious joins Dukes Lane to the Greenhills estate in Athy.

While the dead man had spent time in prison after being caught with bomb making equipment he also had at least four convictions for violent assault, the latest of these was recorded at the end of last year.

Gardai believe he had regularly become involved in verbal and sometimes physical alternations around Athy where he lived and was well known. Detectives investigating his death believe the fatal attack on him was the outcome of one such altercation and was most likely not linked to his involvement with dissident republicans.

In 1998 at the Special Criminal Court he pleaded guilty to having 980 lbs of an improvised explosive mixture, a timer power unit, an electrical detonator, two improvised booster tubes and an improvised detonating cord with intent to endanger life at Dun Laoghaire port on April 2nd, 1998. He was sentenced to 15 years which was later reduced to 10 on appeal.

The court was told that Keane was paid £300 sterling in advance and was to get the balance of the £2,000 on his return from England.