Major security operation as Eddie Hutch’s remains released

Funeral Mass for 59-year-old set to take place in Dublin on Friday, days after David Byrne buried

Gardaí have begun a major security operation in Dublin's north inner city after the remains of murdered father of five Eddie Hutch were released to his family.

There was a visible Garda presence made up of uniformed unarmed gardaí backed by armed detectives and members of the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) as a hearse carried the coffin to a house on Portland Row where the deceased’s sister lives.

Gardaí took up their places along Portland Row, which joins the Five Lamps to the North Circular Road in Dublin 1, more than an hour before the hearse arrived just before 5pm.

A 4X4 vehicle carrying heavily armed members of the ERU was the only vehicle that followed the hearse through the streets.

As the hearse pulled in outside the house and the coffin was being taken inside, the road was briefly closed.

A heavy hale shower forced the small number of local people who had come out of their houses to look on back indoors.

Gun feud

The Garda's show of force was aimed at deterring any further violence in the gun feud that claimed the life of David Byrne (33), from Crumlin, last Friday week and Mr Hutch four days later.

The policing operation around the Byrne and Hutch funerals represents the first time in the history of gang feuding in the Republic that funerals have been treated by gardaí as a potential target for attack.

Gardaí were still posted on the street outside the Hutch property on Portland Row on Wednesday night.

The uniformed and armed patrols were expected to remain in place on the street until Mr Hutch’s remains were taken from the house on Friday morning for his funeral.

A major security operation was expected to be mounted on Friday including armed checkpoints and armed patrols outside the funeral mass, around the burial and on the streets close to any social gathering the Hutch family hosts after the dead man’s burial.

When the funeral of gangland figure Byrne, a father of two, took place in the south inner city on Monday, the Garda Dog Unit was used to search St Nicholas of Myra Church, Francis St, Dublin 8, for explosives before the Mass.

Armed gardaí also patrolled outside his wake at his parents’ home in Raleigh Square on Sunday night and in the streets around the church early on Monday and later at Mount Jerome Cemetery, Harold’s Cross.

Funeral Mass

Mr Hutch, who was shot dead at his home on Poplar Row, Dublin 1, last Monday week, was expected to be waked at the house on Portland Row on Thursday evening ahead of his funeral. The 59-year-old’s funeral mass is set to take place at Our Lady of Lourdes Church on Sean McDermott Street, Dublin 1.

Unlike Byrne, Mr Hutch was not a gangland figure and gardaí believe he was singled out to be murdered simply because he was a member of the Hutch family.

Byrne was part of the drugs gang whose leadership, including convicted drug dealer Christy Kinahan, is based in southern Spain. Last September when Eddie Hutch's nephew Gary Hutch (34) was shot dead in Spain, the Kinahan gang emerged as the only suspects.

Associates of Gary Hutch are believed to have been behind the attack by a group of armed men on a boxing weigh-in at which Byrne was shot dead and two other men were wounded last Friday week at the Regency Hotel, Drumcondra.

Gardaí believe members of the Kinahan gang saw Eddie Hutch as a soft target for a retaliatory shooting. This was despite the fact he had no involvement in the dispute that had taken his nephew’s or Byrne’s lives.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times