John O’Driscoll, who led the Garda’s battle against the Kinahans, retires

Assistant Commissioner has been the public face of Garda operations targeting organised crime since 2016

Assistant Commissioner John O’Driscoll, who has led Garda operations against the Kinahan cartel in recent years, stepped down on Tuesday.

Mr O’Driscoll retired after 41 years in the Garda, including as Assistant Commissioner for Special Crime Operations since 2016.

He took up the post in the middle of a bloody feud between the Kinahan and Hutch organised crime groups, which was responsible for about 18 murders.

Following the Regency Hotel Shooting in February 2016, Mr O’Driscoll became the public face of the Garda’s efforts to quell the feud and dismantle the Kinahan Cartel, an international drug-smuggling group founded by Christy Kinahan and operated by his sons Daniel Kinahan and Christy Kinahan Junior.

Operations under the leadership of Mr O’Driscoll have resulted in the imprisonment of many members and associates of the gang.

More recently, he was instrumental in drumming up international support for sanctions against the Kinahan leadership which is based in Dubai.

This culminated in the announcement by US authorities last April of sanctions and travel bans targeting Kinahan associates as well as a $15 million (€14.2 million) reward for information leading to the conviction of its three leaders.

Since then the UAE has frozen the Kinahan’s assets in Dubai and more than 600 people connected to the group, including heavyweight boxer Tyson Fury, have been denied entry to the US.

The Garda was “blindsided” by the outbreak of the Kinahan-Hutch feud and were hampered by a lack of resources, Mr O’Driscoll conceded recently. But policing actions have since led to 70 associates of the gang being put in custody, he said.

“As Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said, they can keep running, but they can’t hide,” he said last month.

On Tuesday, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee praised the work of the Assistant Commissioner who she said “has served the State with integrity and distinction over the course of his 41 year career in policing”.

The Minister said Mr O’Driscoll embodied the finest traditions of An Garda Síochána throughout his career, “and particularly in difficult days since 2016″.

She said his work was central to “quietly harnessing” a coalition of international law enforcement to tackle organised criminal groups.

“As he retires today, I know John’s heart will always remain in policing and his legacy will have a lasting impact on all those who have had the privilege to work with him and on the public he has served with such steadfastness.”

Mr O’Driscoll, who is from the north side of Dublin, joined the Garda in 1981 and was assigned to Fitzgibbon Street Garda station in the north inner-city.

He went on to serve in the Garda National Immigration Bureau, Garda National Drug Unit and the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, as well as in postings in Swinford, Co Mayo, and Rathangan, Co Kildare.

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher is Crime Correspondent of The Irish Times