Dispute over development linked to murder in Dublin mountains

Body of Michael McCoy (61) discovered on Ballinascorney Hill in Brittas on Friday

A man found beaten to death in a remote part of the Dublin Mountains was a high profile conservationist and gardaí believe his murder is linked to one of the campaigns he was involved in.

The dead man has been named locally as 61-year-old Michael McCoy, a leading member of the Dublin Mountain Conservation Group.

His remains were found by a search team at about 4am on Friday though news of the killing only emerged when the Garda issued a statement on Saturday afternoon.

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The dead man was a passionate conservationist who had lodged a very high number of planning objections to building schemes and other projects he believed would damage the natural beauty of the area where he was murdered.


A man is currently under arrest and is the chief suspect in the case.

The Irish Times understands the man being questioned was known to Mr McCoy, though he is not related to him in any way.

Mr McCoy had raised a large number of objections to developments in the Dublin Mountains and had come into conflict with a number of people because of that, including the man currently being questioned about the murder.

Gardaí arrested the suspect on Saturday afternoon, the day after Mr McCoy's body was discovered close to a forest track in a wooded area at Ballinascorney Hill near Brittas.

The suspect is currently being detained at Tallaght Garda station under the provisions of Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act 1984.

The remains of Mr McCoy, who was from the area, were discovered with head injuries consistent with having been assaulted, though gardai initially believed he may have fallen.

Missing dog

Gardaí understand he left his home at 6am on Thursday to walk his two dogs.

Supt Peter Duff of Tallaght Garda station, where the investigation is based, said it would not have been unusual for Mr McCoy to walk his dogs in the area at that time of day.

When the man’s family arrived home later in the day and discovered he had not returned, they became concerned and he was then reported missing to the Garda.

A search was carried out overnight by members of the Dublin Wicklow Mountain Rescue Team and the Glen of Imaal Red Cross Mountain Rescue Team. They discovered Mr McCoy’s body about 1.7km from the road just after 4am on Friday.

His remains were taken to Tallaght hospital where a postmortem was carried out and the State Pathologist was called.

Results from the postmortem suggest Mr McCoy died from injuries sustained during an assault.

One of the man’s dogs, which were both boxers, returned home by itself, arriving shortly after the body was discovered.

The other dog, Fia, has not been located and a Facebook page has been set up in an effort to find her. She has a distinctive long tail and people are being urged to look out for her.

Mr McCoy’s daughter also posted a video on Twitter in an effort to locate the dog.

The area where the body was discovered is frequented by hill walkers and mountain bikers. “It’s a very isolated area up here as you can see,” said Supt Duff. “We have no indication at this stage as to what happened.”

Supt Duff said detectives were keeping an “open mind” on whether any weapons were involved but there was no immediate sign to suggest that. “We only have preliminary findings from the postmortem and we’re still conducting a search of the area,” he said.

Supt Duff said the area was not known for anti-social behaviour. “We have no incidents up here at all,” he said.

Detectives were still at the scene on Saturday evening and could be seen searching undergrowth with pitchforks.

Anyone who was in the general area of Ballinascorney Hill, or Ballinascorney Road Upper between 6am on September 29th and 4am on September 30th is asked to contact the incident room at Tallaght Garda station on 01 666000 or the Garda confidential line 1800 666 111.

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times