Kinahan-Hutch feud: When life is cheap
Disputes involving gangs in Finglas, Coolock, Tallaght, Blanchardstown and Clondalkin could flare into armed confrontation
Latest Dublin shooting: The Garda helicopter hovers above James Larkin House on the North Strand on Tuesday night after the fatal shooting of Jason “Buda” Molyneux (27) earlier. Photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times
Though the number of gangland killings fluctuated in recent years, a new and vicious element was introduced by the Kinahan-Hutch feud with family connections becoming sufficient reason for murder. A central element in that conflict is the drugs trade which is marked by international connections and rivalries. Because of that, the Garda response must – and has – involved transnational policing co-operation along with intensive local intelligence gathering.
Life has become cheap. By mid-2014 there had been 10 gangland killings. Towards the end of the following year, the Kinahan-Hutch feud erupted. Fifteen murders took place in 2016, falling to seven last year. And gardaí now warn that disputes involving gangs in Finglas, Coolock, Tallaght, Blanchardstown and Clondalkin could flare into armed confrontation. The latest murder is believed to have involved a Ballymun dispute.
A multi-pronged approach by State agencies in disadvantaged areas, involving job creation, education and reduced social deprivation, is essential
Intensive surveillance and intelligence gathering is needed in this situation, not just to prevent further murders but to reassure traumatised communities that law and order will prevail. There is a need for more uniformed gardaí on the beat, liaising with local people, as recommended 10 years ago by former Garda Inspectorate head Kathleen O’Toole. In that period, the number of uniformed gardaí based at Store Street in Dublin’s north inner city has fallen by 50. But plans are under way to send desperately needed manpower to relatively law-abiding Stepaside. Madness.
Specialised crime officers from armed response and drug units have been deployed in reaction to the Kinahan-Hutch feud, according to Assistant Commissioner Pat Leahy. He believes Garda investigations have uncovered sufficient evidence to send a number of key drug dealers to jail. Yet policing alone is not the answer. In the drugs trade, murder begets murder, while poverty and social disadvantage provide a ready supply of young replacements. A multi-pronged approach by State agencies in disadvantaged areas, involving job creation, education and reduced social deprivation, is essential to stifle recruitment. It will be a long haul.