Big fall in Limerick gun crime after arrests


GUN CRIME in Limerick plummeted last year following the jailing of a number of criminal figures in the city and a major Garda push against those involved in several gangland feuds.

Gardaí in the city have seen their numbers increase over the past two years and have put in place a number of specialist operations to combat gangland violence.

The result has been a 60 per cent decrease in 2008 in crimes involving the discharging of firearms.

Senior officers who spoke to The Irish Times said they were hopeful the extra Garda deployment and the establishment of new armed regional support units would have a lasting effect.

According to provisional figures obtained from Garda sources, there were 43 known incidents in the Limerick division last year during which firearms were discharged. This was down from 103 such incidents in 2007.

The murder of Shane Geoghegan (28) in Dooradoyle in November in a case of mistaken identity has resulted in a major Garda investigation into members of the gang behind the killing.

A team of 50 gardaí is investigating that shooting and these have been aided by a number of specialist Garda units based in Dublin. Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy recently said he was confident the murder investigation would prove successful.

Gardaí based in the city say the size and intensity of the investigation has greatly frustrated the ability of many criminals to engage in gangland crime.

The same sources said tensions may increase in the main Limerick gangland feud – between the Collopy-Keane gang and the McCarthy-Dundons – when drug dealer Christie Keane is released from prison in the middle of next month.

Keane (48) will complete a 10- year prison sentence for drugs on February 18th. He is the brother of Kieran Keane, who was shot dead by the McCarthy-Dundon gang in January 2003.

Christie Keane’s son Liam Keane (24) was sentenced to 10 years in prison last Tuesday for possession of a loaded Glock handgun in Limerick last May.

Both Liam Keane and the man jailed with him – Greg Crawford, St Munchin’s Street, St Mary’s Park – have been in prison since their arrest with the weapon in a stolen car.

Both were wearing gloves at the time and their trial heard the gun was ready for “immediate use”.

Other cases in Limerick during the year in which people were jailed for gun crime include:

Garrett Fitzgerald (32), Claughaun Avenue, jailed for four years in October. He walked into a bar masked and with a loaded shotgun and threatened a man who had earlier told him to leave because he was drunk.

The victim had his five-year-old son sitting on his knee at the time;

Michael Ryan (19), St Munchin’s Street, St Mary’s Park, and a 14-year-old boy were jailed for four and 2½ years respectively in October for their role in a shooting at a house in the city last April;

A man in his 40s is currently on remand awaiting sentencing for possession of a loaded handgun in the city last year;

A suspected member of the Continuity IRA in Limerick is also awaiting sentence on firearms charges;

Nine other well-known criminals who have been engaged in feuding in the city are currently in jail awaiting trial or sentencing.

In total, there were 42 cases before the courts in Limerick last year in which people were charged with firearms offences.

Despite the Garda successes against the feuding gangs, Limerick witnessed a number of gun murders last year.

Mr Geoghegan was shot dead in November in a case of mistaken identity linked to Limerick’s main feud.

On April 5th, Mark Moloney (40) was shot in the Garryowen area. A man has been charged with that killing.

On April 7th, the body of James Cronin (20), Ballinacurra Weston, was found in a shallow grave. He had been shot in the head in a feud-related murder.

Squalid truth of a life of crime: Weekend, page 3