Fears Dublin feud was about to hit Northern Ireland after threat to drug gang's soiree in Belfast pub
PSNI on high alert following caller's warning of attack on function at bar
Police mounted an extensive security operation at the weekend amid fears that a deadly Dublin drugs feud would erupt on the streets of Belfast.
A drugs gang linked to the Hutch-Kinahan feud, in which 10 people have so far been killed, held a private function in a north Belfast pub on Saturday night. Leading drug dealers from Belfast and across the border attended the event.
After a telephone threat was made that an attack would be launched on those attending the party, the PSNI mounted the operation.
Land-Rovers patrolled the area and undercover police were also present near the venue.
The north Belfast bar had unwittingly accepted the booking for the party after it was made under a false name. The establishment only became suspicious on the evening of the event.
The pub received an anonymous phone call saying that a criminal drugs gang linked to the Hutch-Kinahan feud would be holding a function in the premises that night. The caller said that there would be "an attack on the party".
The establishment immediately contacted the PSNI and warned it of the threat. Doormen at the pub were also put on alert. Prominent drug dealers from Dublin travelled to Belfast for the function.
Members of a well-known criminal family from west Belfast, who were once associated with the Provisional IRA and later dissident republicans, were also in attendance.
Sources said that at the beginning of the evening it appeared that the PSNI had taken no action, and there were fears that an attack could be imminent. "Then, as the night wore on, a really heavy police presence became visible," the source added. The event passed off without incident.
Last week an innocent Irishman was killed in Majorca in a mistaken identity shooting linked to the Hutch-Kinahan feud. Trevor O'Neill (41) was shot dead in front of his partner and three children in the Spanish island, where they were on holiday.
The Dublin council worker had been on board the same flight to Majorca as Jonathan Hutch (37), a nephew of Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch. Mr O'Neill did not know Mr Hutch and had just started chatting to him on holiday.
His partner Suzanne Power said: "We went out the front of the hotel and Trevor was walking in front with the chap we met on holidays. I was walking behind pushing the buggy.
"I saw a man walking up wearing a hoodie. I thought it was strange because it was roasting. I saw him pull out a gun." Jonathan Hutch, who is now in hiding, is not a criminal and was targeted only because of his name.
The Kinahan gang have gained the upper hand on their rivals since the feud began less than a year ago. Based in the Costa del Sol, they are one of the most powerful drug cartels in the world, operating a billion-euro empire.
They are headed by Christy Kinahan, known as 'The Dapper Don', who lives in Dubai.
The feud hit the headlines in February when the Hutch gang carried out an attack at a boxing weigh-in at Dublin's Regency Hotel. Kinahan gang member David Byrne was shot dead and two other members were injured.
Christy Kinahan's son Daniel, a boxing promoter and heir to the criminal empire, escaped by jumping through a window.
Republicans from Northern Ireland have become entangled in the feud.
New IRA member Michael Barr, from Strabane, was shot dead by the Kinahans in a Dublin bar in April. He was accused by the gang of sourcing the weapons used in the Regency Hotel shooting.
An associate of Barr's from Strabane, nicknamed 'Flatcap', was involved in the Regency Hotel attack. The other gunman was dressed as a woman.