Gangland feud at ‘higher level’ than others, says Fr McVerry

Activist believes Hutch-Kinahan feud set to go on until ‘both sides wipe each other out’

Fr Peter McVerry: “I can’t see it ending until both sides wipe each other out. Neither side is going to pull back.” Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Fr Peter McVerry: “I can’t see it ending until both sides wipe each other out. Neither side is going to pull back.” Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

The Hutch-Kinahan gun feud is more intense and on a “higher level” than any other Irish gang dispute, according to Fr Peter McVerry. The social campaigner said the conflict looks set to go on until “both sides wipe each other out”.

“This is in a different degree than any of the other feuds we’ve experienced,” he said 24 hours after Martin O’Rourke (24) was shot dead on Sheriff Street, Dublin 1, when his killer apparently mistook him for an associate of the Hutches.

“I can’t see it ending until both sides wipe each other out. Neither side is going to pull back,” Fr McVerry said. “The only way to stop this is to have two armed gardaí on every street corner, [but] gardaí cannot be present everywhere all the time. I think expecting gardaí to stop this [is unrealistic].

“They have had successes with seizing weapons and so on. But, as the IRA used to say, ‘the British government has to be successful every time, we only have to be successful once’. And it’s the same with the gangs. They can lose men and weapons, but they just keep coming back.”

New level

“This is different, this is intensely personal. Most disputes are over money or territory or personal vendettas,” he said. “But this is two groups of people who are now personally involved in this. I can’t see it stopping until they both wipe each other out.”

Having worked in the north inner city for decades, helping the homeless and addicted, Fr McVerry said there appeared to be no hope of mediation.

An agreement previously brokered between the sides to spare the life of Gary Hutch (34) had been reneged on. He was murdered in southern Spain last September by the Irish gang based in Spain and Ireland and led from the Marbella region by Dublin drug dealer Christy Kinahan.

Hutch was accused of being a Garda informer and he was also believed to be behind a plan to shoot dead a member of the Kinahan family in Spain, according to Garda sources.

Fr McVerry said it appeared to him that the Kinahans were intent on revenge, which had led to a deeply personalised round of attacks on some of Gary Hutch’s family in Dublin and others he was closely associated with.

“The Kinahans are determined to wipe out the Hutch faction,” Fr McVerry said. What are they [the Hutches] meant to do? They feel they can’t just sit back and wait for them to be picked off.”

Thursday’s killing of Mr O’Rourke, a drug user who had served prison terms for petty crimes, was the fifth in the feud.