Slow grind of Garda work set to derail Kinahan cartel

Analysis: As crimes worsened, resources ploughed into Garda to target and bring down gangs

Garda checkpoint on Francis Street in March 2018: Once gangs’ power, profile and  killings could no longer be denied, resources were ploughed into targeting them. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Garda checkpoint on Francis Street in March 2018: Once gangs’ power, profile and killings could no longer be denied, resources were ploughed into targeting them. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

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The imprisonment of James Quinn in connection with the killing of Gary Hutch effectively represents the criminal justice system catching up with the Kinahan-Hutch feud.

All of the feud murders to date, of which there have been 18, have been the subject of very significant criminal inquiries.

However, even in those cases where suspects are identified and incriminating evidence is available to ground prosecutions, the criminal justice process can take many years.

Gary Hutch, a 35-year-old one-time senior Kinahan gang member, was shot dead in southern Spain in September 2015. Quinn was arrested exactly 12 months later and has been in custody since.

The pace of his prosecution and conviction, which was for being a necessary participant in the murder rather than the person who shot Hutch, was very slow but he has now been sentenced to spend the next 22 years in a Spanish prison. It was a big result for the Spanish system and the Garda whose evidence was so significant in his prosecution.

Extreme action

At different times over the last two decades gangland crime has got away from the Garda for periods. In the late 1990s, the John Gilligan gang expanded and become wealthy before its murder of Veronica Guerin shocked the Garda into extreme action against it.

Within five years of Guerin’s 1996 murder, the McCarthy-Dundon gang was being afforded far too much time and space to fix a stranglehold on the underworld in Limerick.

Also in the early 2000s, similar situations emerged with rival factions in the Dublin suburbs of Crumlin and Drimnagh and with gang leaders like Eamon Dunne and Marlo Hyland in Finglas.

All of these cases involved gangs that initially became so strong they posed a threat to the State. But once pressure was brought to bear – by the media and public – on politicians and the Garda to bring them to book, the Garda succeeded every time.

Power and profile

With all of the aforementioned gangs, the depletion of Garda resources in different parts of the country facilitated the groups in becoming established.

But once their power and profile – and their killings – could no longer be denied, resources were ploughed into the Garda to help bring them down.

And precisely the same pattern is now under way in relation to those factions involved in the Kinahan-Hutch feud.

Quinn is the first Kinahan gang associate jailed in connection with a feud murder but he definitely won’t be the last.

Successful prosecutions will unfold in the Irish courts over the next couple of years for murders, gun running, money laundering and drug dealing.

Kinahan foot soldiers, middle management and senior managers alike are facing serious charges, though they cannot be named at present for legal reasons.

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