Gardaí fear violence around funeral of Noel Kirwan

Killing thought linked to Kinahan perception Kirwan chose Hutch side in gang feud

Garda are reviewing the need for a significant security operation for the funeral of Dubliner Noel Kirwan.

The 62-year-old former active republican, vigilante and extortionist was gunned down at his partner’s home in the west city suburbs on Thursday night.

Garda sources said that, in the period before his murder, he was not considered an active criminal at risk of being targeted in the Kinahan-Hutch feud.

However, his killing appears to be feud-related and comes after a four-month lull in murders linked to the dispute.


Kirwan was originally from Dublin's north inner city and lived there until he was in his 40s. He then moved to Kilbarrack, a north Dublin suburb, and was in recent years spending much of his time at his partner's house in St Ronan's Drive, Clondalkin.

He was shot multiple times, fatally in the head, as he sat in his car in the driveway of that local authority property just after 5pm on Thursday.

Gardaí believe he was being watched by his killers and, when he pulled into the driveway of the house in his Mondeo, his killer ran up and fired into the car. Kirwan’s partner was in the front passenger seat.

White van

The gunman then ran to a waiting white Peugeot Partner driven by an accomplice. The van sped from the scene and was later found burnt-out a short distance away at Neilstown shopping centre.

His close personal relationship with the patriarch of the Hutch family, Gerry Hutch, appears to have angered Dublin-based members of the Kinahan gang and motivated Thursday's murder.

In total, 11 murders have been now linked to the feud since the first victim, Gary Hutch, was gunned down in September 2015.

A 34-year-old armed robber and drug dealer, Gary Hutch was once a member of the Kinahan gang operating in Dublin and Spain.

When the gang was targeted by a series of raids across Europe in May 2010, and 30 arrests were made – including senior Kinahan figures in Spain – Gary Hutch was the only person arrested in Dublin.

His arrest was not only a reflection of his solid place in the cartel at the time, but also underlined how people aligned to the Hutch family in the north inner city mixed with and worked with the Kinahan gang.

Gerry Hutch, for example, has known Christy Kinahan for many years and had never been in dispute with him before his nephew fell foul of the Kinahan gang and was shot dead by them.

Gang loyalties

And Noel Kirwan was also regarded by An Garda as a man friendly with the Hutch family and also the people who make up the Kinahan gang. But when he was photographed with Gerry Hutch at the funeral of his brother Eddie Hutch – who was shot dead in February – it appears Kinahan gang members in Dublin interpreted this as Kirwan choosing a side in the dispute.

Two central figures in the Kinahan gang’s Irish operation were close to Kirwan and had known him all his life. And they were said to be incensed when they heard he had driven Gerry Hutch to his brother’s funeral; information that was not accurate.

The Kinahan gang believing Kirwan had taken the Hutchs’ side in the feud is one line of inquiry being examined for his murder.

However, his links to the republican movement, the criminal activities of a young man he was close to, his work in security and links to suspected extortion are also all being examined.

Gardaí are fearful that tensions will run high at his funeral and that the burial may have paramilitary trappings.

A policing operation is now being planned to contain any possible flashpoints around the funeral – which has yet to be confirmed – and especially at social gatherings just before and after.

His murder means his associates – some linked to the Hutch family and others to dissident paramilitaries – may plan revenge attacks and perhaps draw into the feud men who have not been involved to date.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times