Large Garda operation around Vinnie Ryan funeral

Partner and baby among mourners told murder was ‘reminder never to take life for granted’

Gardaí mounted a major security operation around the funeral of dissident republican Vinnie Ryan in Dublin.

Ryan, a father of one, was shot dead in a gangland-style attack as he sat in a car outside his partner's family home on McKee Road, Finglas, last week.

There was a very significant Garda presence along the short route of the funeral cortege from his home on Grange Drive, Donaghmede, to the Church of the Holy Trinity in Donaghmede.

Teams of uniformed gardaí, armed detectives, members of regional support unit and the emergency response unit were located all along the route and around the church


Public order Garda teams were also parked on residential streets around in the event of any public order issues or efforts to form a paramilitary colour guard.

A group of about 500 people walked with the coffin which was draped in a tricolour and led by a lone piper. A guard of honour of about 12 young men marched ahead of the cortege, all wearing black trousers, white shirts and black ties.

There was a further group of men and women dressed in the same clothing in two lines at the head of the cortege, with the dead man’s partner Kelly between them and wheeling the couple’s new baby Phoenix in a pram.

While the Ryan family home and church where the funeral mass was taking place are almost 2km apart, the coffin was carried by mourners for the full distance; leaving the house just after 9.30am and arriving at at about 11am.

There was a large build up of traffic in the area, with the cortege stopping many times to allow new groups of people carry the coffin, with some of those exchanges taking place on main road roundabouts, adding to the traffic disruption.

Fr Gerry Corcoran, the parish priest of Donaghmede, told the large group of mourners that when a family member or close friend died in “sudden and tragic circumstances our world is turned upside down in an instant.”

“We immediately start asking questions like, is this real? Or is it a horrific nightmare which I will wake up from?

“Very soon the enormity of the tragedy begins to sink in and the reality of what is happening begins to emerge. We begin to seek answers to questions we have. Why did this happen? Why now? Why Vincent? Why not to someone else?

“We can be angry with God for not intervening and preventing this tragedy from happening.

“It’s so easy to take life for granted. We know we all must die, but most of us assume or at least hope that it will be when we are old.

“So when a young person dies suddenly and violently as Vincent has, it is a stark reminder that we should never take life for granted.

“Tomorrow is not promised, which is why we must live each day to its fullest and embrace it as a gift from God and so strive to live out our daily lives as Christians in preparation for that unknown moment when our earthly journey will be over.

“But when tragedy strikes, like it has for Vincent’s family, God is also there in the midst of our pain and suffering.

“Much has been written and said about Vincent in the media in recent days. But to his family, to those who actually knew him, he was a loving son, partner, father, brother, uncle, cousin and friend.

“He loved his partner Kelly and the birth of their baby daughter Phoenix just six weeks ago brought great joy and new life to him. His excitement at her birth was described to me as ‘unreal’.

“Vincent enjoyed cycling from a young age and more recently his love of his motor biking emerged. He was intelligent, witty and loved to play pranks.

“He valued friendship greatly. Was a good handyman who could “put his hand to anything” having also served his time as an apprentice plumber.

“He played guitar and enjoyed music. He was a non-smoker, non-drinker and never used drugs. He enjoyed watching TV especially the Discovery channel.

“Those are just some of the things that I have learned about Vincent in recent days from his family.

“I am sure many here today have their own individual memories of him which even the passing of time cannot take away.”

The remains of the 25-year-old from north Dublin were released to his family four days after he was shot dead in Finglas, north Dublin.

The funeral Mass will be followed by his burial at Fingal Cemetery.

Fears that his funeral would witness a similar show of paramilitary strength to that seen three and a half years ago when his brother Alan Ryan was buried, after also being shot dead, were eased over the weekend.

Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan said she had been in contact with Ryan’s family.

She said the family had called for no revenge for his murder and insisted his would not be a “military” funeral.

Ryan’s family issued a statement on Saturday saying his funeral would not be a “military” service. They also appealed for no retaliation for the murder.

The family said he would receive “a traditional republican family funeral”.

“For the avoidance of any doubt, he will not receive a military funeral. We would ask that the media and the State would allow us to bury him with honour and dignity. The family calls for no retaliation and for an end to the senseless violence being carried out on our streets by drug gangs,” the statement concluded.

Like his brother Alan, he is believed to have been killed by the same drug dealers the Real IRA in Dublin was trying to extort money from up to the time of his brother’s murder in September 2012.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times