Belfast Telegraph

Eddie Hutch, brother of crime lord ‘The Monk’ killed in Dublin gangland feud

Murder ‘retaliation’ for Friday’s hotel shooting as Continuity IRA deny involvement

By Paul Williams, Niall O’Connor and Conor Feehan

A brother of veteran Irish crime boss Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch was shot dead last night as a gangland feud escalated in Dublin city centre.

Eddie Hutch Snr was gunned down at a family home on Poplar Row, off the North Strand, in apparent retaliation for the Regency Hotel shooting three days earlier.

Security sources have dismissed claims by the Continuity IRA (CIRA) that they were responsible for the murder of David Byrne as “not credible and opportunistic”.

A statement was made to the BBC yesterday, but a second was issued to the Irish Daily Mirror on Monday evening, also claiming to be from the Continuity IRA, in which the group denied any involvement in the hotel attack.

“The Continuity IRA wish to make it clear that we did not have any involvement in Friday’s shooting at the Regency Hotel,” it said. “We have absolutely no involvement in criminal feuds. We see the false claim that the CIRA were involved in this act as another attempt to tarnish the name of the organisation.”

Armed officers had been patrolling the streets of the capital since Friday’s shooting, which claimed the life of Byrne — a key member of an international drug gang run by crime boss Christy Kinahan.

Local councillor Christy Burke said: “I called for calm and no retaliations. This is going to add more misery to a community already struggling with crime. We are in shock.”

Yesterday, senior detectives from across the Dublin Metropolitan Region held a conference which was chaired by the head of the Organised Crime and Drugs Bureau.

It is understood the investigation into the outrage was discussed, as well as a city-wide operation to prevent a further escalation in the tense feud that has rocked the Irish capital.

However, last night it appeared the Kinahan cartel had wasted no time in seeking revenge. Eddie, who was aged in his 50s, was gunned down in cold blood by a gang of four men at 7.45pm.

Two of the men are believed to have escaped in a car which was later found dumped in nearby St Patrick’s Parade.

Crucially, it was not burned out but it seems as if it was the intention to destroy it because a canister of petrol was found inside. The fact that the car is intact will be a major advantage to forensic scientists.

Irish Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said last night’s fatal shooting was another deplorable example of the ruthlessness of gangland criminals. “It seems that some gangs are intent on waging a feud where human life counts for nothing,” she said.

“The Gardaí will take all necessary steps to try to prevent further bloodshed but we have to recognise the challenges they face. Members of gangs who have fears for their safety should come forward to the Gardaí.

“I will be meeting with the Garda Commissioner and her senior officers tomorrow.”

Eddie Hutch, a taxi driver, was not considered to be a violent criminal and tended to stay in the background. He had a number of convictions for small-time fraud and shoplifting. However, he was suspected of helping to launder some of the proceeds from the heists masterminded by his brother Gerry.

Eddie was also one of a large group of the Monk’s associates targeted in Operation Alpha, the first major investigation launched by the Republic’s Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) shortly after it was established in 1996. As part of the inquiry, which was to last over 10 years, the CAB seized a bank account in Eddie Hutch’s name which contained over €156,000.

Mr Burke said Eddie was shot dead because of his name alone.

“This is what it has come to. You can be shot dead because of your name. If they can’t get who they want they’ll find a relative. It’s shocking,” he said.

“The gardai have lost it in my opinion. They don’t have the resources they need and ordinary citizens need protecting.

“There were armed checkpoints around the city last night and all weekend, and still this happened.” Detectives are satisfied that the Hutch crime gang were responsible for the Regency Hotel shooting with senior sources confirming they do not suspect a hit team was brought in from abroad.

Gardai have also informally identified one of the hit men involved in the Regency Hotel shooting outrage.

The suspect, who dressed as a woman during the audacious attack, was photographed as he and an accomplice ran from the hotel with automatic pistols clearly visible in their hands. It is understood the suspect is in his 20s and from the north inner-city.

He had been lying low since the execution in Spain last year of his close friend Gary Hutch.

Gardai now believe the “couple”, both armed with handguns, were sent in to spot their intended targets — Christy Kinahan’s son Daniel and the murdered man’s brother Liam Byrne.

According to a review of the CCTV footage, the two accomplices appeared to panic and the shooter in drag fired the first shots into the air.

Daniel Kinahan, who had organised the boxing tournament, made his escape through a window while Byrne ran upstairs and locked himself in a hotel room.

Last night there were calls for Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan to fully explain the absence of Gardaí from the boxing event.

Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Niall Collins said the public’s shock and fear is not helped by the fact that despite previous media reports of gangland interest and attendance at the event in advance, there wasn’t a single Garda on site.

“The Justice Minister simply shrugs and describes it as an operational matter, but that’s not good enough. The critical question she should be asking is ‘why’?” Mr Collins said.

“If it is known that high profile and very dangerous criminals engaged in a feud are going to be attending a public event, surely the very least the public have a right to expect is that undercover Gardaí will also be there?

“My fear is that the very real shortage of Gardaí and the strain on resources within the force, are having a seriously detrimental effect on the fight against these thugs.”

The Irish government is also under pressure over the failure to place garda patrols at the Regency Hotel.

Following a phone briefing with the Garda Commissioner yesterday morning, Ms Fitzgerald said she was not prepared to “second guess” the decision-making of senior gardai in relation to operational matters.

“They have no intelligence which they believe would have warranted their presence there. The harsh reality is intelligence is not always available in relation to the committing of crime,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams condemned last night’s shooting, which he said has “brought further fear and intimidation to the streets of our capital”.

“Those behind this latest shooting, and those behind the dreadful attack last Friday at the Regency Hotel, must be apprehended and taken off our streets,” he said. “The Gardaí need the fullest possible support from the community in their efforts to do this.”

Separately, in a statement issued to the Irish Daily Mirror last night, purportedly from the Continuity IRA, dissident republicans dismissed initial claims of their involvement.

Des Dalton, president of Republican Sinn Fein, said he had spoken to republican sources who had confirmed the second statement and rejected the claim of responsibility.

“I have been told that it was a bogus statement and an attempt to smear the Continuity IRA,” he said.

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