Gardai foil 15 murder plots linked to Kinahan-Hutch war
The elite garda unit tasked with bringing down the Hutch and Kinahan crime gangs foiled at least 15 murders in the past year, a senior detective has revealed.
In an exclusive interview with the Herald, Det Supt Tony Howard also revealed the seizure of 18 high-powered weapons, more than €1m in cash and drugs worth €22m.
Since January, there have been eight gun murders in Ireland and one in Spain that were directly linked to the feud.
Det Supt Howard, of the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (DOCB), said the number would have been significantly higher had it not been for the last-minute interventions of gardai.
"This year there were at least 15 occasions when we had to react quite quickly because there was an imminent threat to somebody's life," he said.
"We're talking minutes to a couple of hours away from the attack being carried out. It's really all hands to the pump at that stage.
"In all of these operations, preservation of life is paramount.
"We are responsible for investigating drug trafficking, money laundering, firearms, but the reality is that our primary focus is on the preservation of life."
The DOCB was set up almost two years ago when the Organised Crime Unit was amalgamated with the Garda National Drugs Unit.
It works closely with the Special Crime Task Force and has been at the forefront of tackling gangland crime since the murder of gangster David Byrne (33) at the Regency Hotel last February 5.
That killing sparked the explosion of the feud that has now claimed 11 lives.
The latest victim, Noel 'Duck Egg' Kirwan, was gunned down in Clondalkin last Thursday.
Almost 11 months on from the Regency shooting, there are no signs of the feud slowing down - and Det Supt Howard said the DOCB was not slowing down either.
"In terms of the feud, we will be proactive in how we tackle the individuals involved. I'll reassure the public that our efforts aren't going to lessen in 2017," he said.