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Saturday 3 December 2016

Gang feud victim remembered as a 'Happy Harry' who took his pet rabbit for walks

Mourners follow the hearse at David Byrne’s funeral. Photo: PA
Mourners follow the hearse at David Byrne’s funeral. Photo: PA
The garda public order unit in Tallaght near to where the funeral party was held for David Byrne

Gangland murder victim David Byrne was remembered at his funeral as a trickster who loved his pet rabbit Snowy which he used to walk around Crumlin on a lead.

The crime figure was also described as a beloved partner and father who was nicknamed Happy Harry.

The 34-year-old, who was shot dead in the Regency Hotel gun attack, was also remembered by Fr Niall Coghlan for his sense of humour and for his party piece of back-flipping on the dance floor.

Fr Coghlan pleaded for an end to the tit-for-tat gangland violence.

"It strikes me that to murder a person in cold blood you need at least three things," he said. "First, you need to be consumed with a fierce hatred that plunges you into the depths of evil.

"Second, you must objectify the person and make them less worthy than you.

Adoration

"Third there must be a self-loathing because when you murder another human being you devalue you own self-worth, your own humanity.

"Could David have been murdered if he had been seen as fully human?

"If the killers had looked into his eyes and seen in their reflection the smiles and adoration of two daughters could he have been murdered?

"Could he have been murdered if looking at him a movie was played of a partner in love with her man, a mother and father looking at their youngest child on the day he was born and wondering about the life ahead for him.

"A grandmother, proud to welcome another of the next generation into the world.

"A family who affectionately knew his as a messer, with the nickname from his mother of Happy Harry, the man who delighted them all with his party piece of back flips across a dance floor. A man who loved boxing and was in training for a white collar charity boxing event. Could he have been murdered then?

"I don't think so, because he would have been seen not as an object of revenge and retaliation - a mere target - but a partner, father, son, brother, cousin and grandson, a human being. It's impossible to murder the likes of that.

"When someone is a mere target and dehumanised to that extent there has to be a self-loathing on the part of the perpetrators because they reduce themselves to being the next target.

"It keeps going on until families are destroyed and grief is piled on grief."

Byrne was also remembered by family members as having a sense of humour, with one anecdote about when he had gone to a petrol station late at night wearing only a leotard and his mother's fur coat.

Yesterday's ceremony shed new light on Byrne, who was murdered by associates of Gary Hutch.

He first came to prominence in the bitter Crumlin/Drimnagh feud, which claimed at least 15 lives.

But the new feud between the Kinahan cartel, who he worked with, and associates of Gary Hutch has the potential to pass that in terms of a body count, without any sign of peace in sight.

Underworld

Byrne was an active feud member in the earlier underworld dispute along with his brother, Liam, who helped carry his coffin yesterday.

In June 2002, David Byrne was the target of a gun attack in south inner city Dublin, but he escaped injury.

He was arrested numerous times over the years. One of his most serious arrests followed the murder of gangster Gary Bryan in Walkinstown in 2006.

Bryan (30) was shot six times by a lone killer outside his girlfriend's mother's house, but Byrne was never suspected of being the gunman.

In a separate incident, he was cleared of firearms charges in relation to a shooting connected to the Crumlin/Drimnagh feud in August 2008.

Officers from the Organised Crime Unit arrested Byrne, who was with the now dead convicted murderer Eugene 'The Devil' Cullen after a 20-year-old man was shot in the lower torso in Ballyfermot.

Byrne was also called to give evidence in the murder trial of his gangland rival Brian Rattigan in February 2009 when he claimed that he could not remember anything unusual happening outside Abrakebabra on August 25, 2001 when Rattigan stabbed Declan Gavin to death.

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