Gangland criminals spreading expensive ‘fake news’, gardaí warn

Media briefing held ahead of fifth anniversary of Regency Hotel attack

Gangland criminals are now producing expensive “fake news” media content for sharing across online platforms in a bid to convince people there was a State conspiracy against them and to rebrand themselves as businessmen, the senior Garda officer in charge of the investigation of Irish organised crime has said.

Assistant Commissioner John O’Driscoll, who leads the Garda’s Organised Crime Section, said he was even aware of documents purporting to come from international law enforcement that had been forged and had been included in a fake news “book” circulated online.

He added when he viewed some of the videos that had been produced for sharing online – including one that reenacted the Kinahan-Hutch feud shooting attack at the Regency Hotel in north Dublin exactly five years ago – he was struck by the high production values and how money such content would cost.

Mr O’Driscoll did not refer to the Kinahan cartel but the content he was referring to was produced at the behest of the gang and was very favourable to them.


Content such as a rap music video, a documentary and a book released online all portrayed Daniel Kinahan as a successful boxing promoter against whom a State conspiracy was now underway in his native Ireland to bring him down.

Mr O’Driscoll said while anyone was free to criticise the Garda, criticism “usually takes a different form” to that seen in the “fake news” produced by some Irish criminal elements of late. Because the people at whose behest the fake news was produced, including the re-enactment of the attack on the Regency Hotel, were anonymous it was difficult to challenge them.

“It is difficult to refute any of the bizarre allegations that are made,” he said speaking to the media in Garda Headquarters, Phoenix Park, Dublin, about the Garda’s response to organised crime gangs.

“My main observation [on viewing the fake news content] is it is interesting to see the expense that would have been involved in putting forward one’s view or criticisms of the State and the Garda Síochána.

“As I say, (people) are quite entitled to criticise us and ask questions of us, but that is fascinating in terms of the extent to which these particular individuals have the capacity to resource that particular way of presenting their case.”

The media event Mr O’Driscoll was addressing was being held on the day before the fifth anniversary of an attack on Dubliner Daniel Kinahan and his associates at a boxing match weigh-in at the Regency Hotel, north Dublin, during which his associate David Byrne (34) was killed and others were wounded, though Kinahan escaped uninjured.

Mr O’Driscoll added the Garda was operating on the basis the Kinahan-Hutch feud was ongoing, though there had been no feud murders for three years.

The Garda anticipated further attacks and the crimes committed to date were still under investigation. Specifically, detectives investigating the attack at the Regency Hotel had put further evidence in files and sent them to the DPP, whose office was currently reviewing that material to determine if criminal charges should be taken against suspects.

Daniel Kinahan has alleged, in a statement realised last week to the BBC Panorama programme via his British-based lawyer, he could never get a fair trial in the Republic and that Garda evidence in recent court cases was effectively opinion presented as fact.

When asked about this, Mr O’Driscoll said he could not reply in relation to any named person. But he said recent court decisions and rulings relating to Kinahan-Hutch feud convictions had clearly accepted the evidence presented by the Garda as factual and reliable.

Mr O’Driscoll said the Garda was continuing to “dismantle” the Kinahan cartel and was working with international law enforcement in that regard.

Members of the Garda Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau had visited the United Arab Emirates where members of the cartel were based.

Overall, the bureau had seized drugs valued at €206 million since its establishment in 2015 as well as 133 firearms, 5,516 rounds of ammunition and €21.7 million in cash. Last year alone it seized drugs valued at €37.7m, 23 firearms, 2,131 rounds of ammunition and made 228 arrests while also seizing €8 million in cash. Since the start of 2019 some 65 criminals were convicted in the courts and jailed for five years or more arising from investigations by the bureau.

The seizures, arrests and convictions were not all related to the Kinahan cartel or its feud with the Hutch group, as they also included other gangs.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times