herald

Sunday 4 December 2016

Dissident psycho Byrne believed behind South East extortion gang

Convicted extortionist ‘Buffalo’ Billy Clare is believed to be at the head of the gang
Convicted extortionist ‘Buffalo’ Billy Clare is believed to be at the head of the gang

A gang of thugs terrorising business people in an "extortion scam" have demanded €20,000 from an entrepreneur after kidnapping his son.

The businessman, who we have decided not to name, from Gorey, Co Wexford, said he has been subjected to a slew of threats from the mob who claim to be members of the Provisional IRA.

The windows of the business man's shop in the town were smashed some days ago, and a petrol bomb was thrown outside.

Other businesses in the town have also been targeted.

Senior sources dismissed the Provisional IRA as suspects and said they believe the group, made up of local hoods, is led by former Continuity IRA (CIRA) thug 'Buffalo' Billy Clare.

Speaking to the Herald, the businessman said it was a "very scary experience".

"I have a business that is doing very well, and I have six or seven lads working for me," he said.

"When they called first, they said they wanted €20,000. When they didn't get that, they rang 10 days later and wanted €2,500 within 24 hours. I told them they wouldn't be getting a penny from me.

"Then they came back looking for €4,500, or they would kill my son.

Sinister

"They also said they were going to visit the shop. They came last week and broke the window and lit a petrol bomb outside. It could have been a lot more serious."

The sinister warnings came after the businessman's son, who is in his early 20s, was grabbed by four masked men from a street in broad daylight three weeks ago.

"Four lads in balaclavas grabbed him, threw him in the back of a van, tied him up, gave him a bit of a beating and dumped him in a forest," he said.

The thugs told his son they would kill his girlfriend if the family did not pay.

Garda investigations into all incidents are continuing.

In an extraordinary TV interview last May, Clare threw down the gauntlet to members of the Real IRA, warning: "I see republicans in Dublin, the likes of the Real IRA, I class them now as a legitimate target."

The convicted extortionist also described in chilling detail how former Westies thug Bernard Sugg was shot dead and left "squealing like a pig" by an INLA unit of which he claims he was a member.

Clare was questioned in connection with the murder of father-of-three Stephen O'Meara, who was buried alive in the Wicklow Mountains in 2011.

He served a sentence for membership of the CIRA after the Special Criminal Court heard he had extorted money on behalf of the organisation.

It is understood the CIRA has since renounced him.

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