Hiring hit men: gunmen and gangland
THE EVENTS of recent weeks have shown that Ireland has no shortage of gunmen. After a lull in gangland shootings over the past couple of years, there has been a cluster of attacks.
Last month four men were shot dead: three in Dublin and one in Co Laois. A 16-year-old schoolboy nearly became the Republic’s latest gun victim in Crumlin, in south Dublin, on Tuesday night. A gunman opened fire on a man the schoolboy was standing beside, but he sprayed the wrong person with the pellets from two shotgun blasts.
Organised crime is at the centre of almost every shooting in the Republic. But last weekend the Independent TD for Wexford, Mick Wallace, showed that apparently ordinary people who do not belong to the underworld can consider imposing their will via a gun, or at least by threat of it.
Wallace told Marian Finucane on RTÉ Radio 1 that he had once met a debt collector who used a gun, and said he was tempted to use him to recover a €20,000 debt, of which €4,000 would be paid to the hired gunman.
The comments offered an honest insight into the mind of a businessman struggling to get paid for work done. But do many ordinary people take such desperate measures? And are there contract gunmen ready to pull the trigger?
“In a lot of areas guys would be known to be involved in a gang,” says one Garda source. “Even the respectable people from an area can tell you the gossip about who is supposed to have done what shooting. So if you know of a person who has access to a gun and you really wanted somebody threatened, to frighten them, you wouldn’t have to be a genius to approach them quietly. All they can say is no. They’re not exactly going to report it [to the Garda] if they’re up to their necks in it themselves.” Other sources disagree. “Most people wouldn’t have a breeze how to get a bag of cocaine, never mind sort out a paid gunman,” says one.
ON TUESDAY the disastrous consequences of hiring violent men became clear. The family of Terence Madden, a BB owner who was “ruthlessly and gratuitously” shot dead in a contract attack outside his home, was awarded almost €750,000 in damages by the High Court. The bulk of the money was awarded to his widow, Margaret Madden. The 52-year-old father of three died in 1999 after being shot. Michael Doohan, Madden’s neighbour, who operated a rival BB in Monasteraden, Co Sligo, hired three men to attack him. A fee of €600 was paid upfront with €900 to follow after Madden was attacked.
But, for the most part, the hiring of gunmen is an activity confined to gangland. Another more recent incident offers an insight into how the world of contract gun killings works.
In April Wayne Dundon, a Limerick criminal, was jailed for six years, and his brother John for five and a half, for threatening members of the Collins family in the city. A dispute between their brother Gerard and his partner, April Collins, led to an attack on the Collins house in September 2010 by four women, one of whom was John Dundon’s wife, Ciara.
In an effort to prevent the Collins family pursuing a criminal case against his sister-in-law, Wayne Dundon threatened to kill April Collins, as well as her mother, Alice Collins, and her brothers Gareth and Jimmy. Alice Collins later said that Wayne Dundon asked her whether Jimmy went to a certain pub every weekend before telling her John Dundon would “give some fool 10 grand” to kill Jimmy. “It’s the quiet fellas who get it,” he suggested. “You’re digging your own grave; it’s very easy to make people disappear.”