Inside Ireland’s gangland: the next generation of criminals

‘Now we have all these young people fighting over turf,’ a Virgin Media documentary hears

A garda at the former Regency Hotel, Dublin following the fatal shooting of David Byrne in February 2016. Photograph: Gareth Chaney, Collins

A garda at the former Regency Hotel, Dublin following the fatal shooting of David Byrne in February 2016. Photograph: Gareth Chaney, Collins

 

Spurred, belatedly, into action by the audacious Regency Hotel shooting in 2016 and the escalating bloody feud between the Hutch and Kinahan crime groups, the Garda renewed its efforts to rout out the gangs.

Those efforts have been particularly successful – even if they do say so themselves. “There is a power vacuum there at the moment,” says Assistant Commissioner Pat Leahy, “created by the successes of Garda Síochána. now we have all these young people getting involved and they’re fighting over turf.”

This is Inside Ireland’s Gangland: The Next Generation (Virgin Media One, Wednesday, 10pm) in a nutshell, a dour survey of organised crime and disorganised consequences presented by the station’s crime correspondent Sarah O’Connor.

Consulting with various crime correspondents from the print media, she finds that their take on crime corresponds: we’re out of the frying pan and into the crossfire.

You could be forgiven for sensing a wistful undertone to the deadpan professionalism of factual reporting. That the half a dozen heavily armed feuds currently under way in Dublin, Drogheda, Longford and Sligo are considered “chaotic” suggests a certain rue for the good old days of bad old gangs: “There’s just no clear lines anymore, it’s a very chaotic situation.”

The programme’s jittery outline of a cycle of killings among new “Insta-glam” gang members, skirmishing over the lucrative drugs business, bears that out. At least with the Kinahans and Hutches, who conducted violent business with careful planning on audacious scales, you knew where you stood, it seems to suggest.

That, however, requires parsing a bloody mess. It begins with a tiger kidnapping involving Gary Hutch in 2009 (hauling €7.6 million from Bank of Ireland, €4m of which Daniel Kinahan was supposed to launder). The subsequent recriminations, assassinations and reprisals led to “the deadliest gang feud in Ireland’s history” as swirling target graphics helpfully illustrate. This point is made several times, in the same way, as though stolid reiteration might stand in for analysis.

The show is better when it delves back further, showing how the Kinahans grew out of a previous power vacuum in Irish organised crime, following the fall of John Gilligan. From that chaos came a new order of criminal.

Despite the programme’s faithful relaying of stern cautions from the gardaí, or the anguish of Jean O’Connor, twice bereaved when her son and brother-in-law were killed in the gang violence, the illegal drugs industry is certain to attract another. Nature abhors a vacuum. So does business.

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