herald

Sunday 25 June 2017

Murder victim had active role in 'New INLA' gang

Members of the Garda Technical Bureau at the scene of Michael Keogh’s murder in an underground car park in Dorset Street
Members of the Garda Technical Bureau at the scene of Michael Keogh’s murder in an underground car park in Dorset Street

The latest murder victim in the capital's gangland feud was involved with the New INLA.

The gang, whose members were primarily involved in extortion rackets, got involved with the Kinahan cartel as guns-for-hire in the early stages of the feud last year.

It is suspected of involvement in a number of murders and other attacks on the cartel's behalf.

Small-time criminal Michael Keogh (37) is understood to have got involved in the activities of the New INLA because of his close relationship with his on-the-run younger brother Jonathan (32), who is a key member of the organisation.

Up to 20 criminals are now key members of the New INLA, which set up base in Ballymun last year.

The gang was involved in a crime summit at the Regency Hotel April last year, but fled after getting "spooked" by a garda surveillance team who were monitoring their meeting.

The gang is also believed to be behind two attempts to murder Limerick criminal Sean 'Cowboy' Hanley in 2015.

One of the senior gang members is suspected of involvement in a pipe bomb attack targeting Dublin drug dealer Charlie 'The Walrus' O'Neill, before the 53-year-old died of natural causes in August 2015.

Bombs

Investigations into the New INLA were stepped up after a viable bomb and a Glock pistol were seized and a Latvian man arrested after armed gardai pulled over and searched a vehicle near Mountrath, Co Laois, on February 25 last year.

Michael Keogh's brother Jonathan was given an eight-year jail sentence by the Special Criminal Court in July 2009 after he was caught making pipe bombs in September of the previous year.

After his release, he continued to be involved in major criminal activity and joined the New INLA, which then forged links with the Kinahan cartel as part of the feud that has now claimed 12 lives.

In March, a close associate of the Keogh brothers was jailed for his role in a "depraved and barbaric" assault in which a 53-year old man was pinned to a kitchen floor with a nail-gun.

Gerard Mackin (33) and a 52-year-old associate were each given three-year jail senten- ces at the Special Criminal Court for assaulting the man in Co Limerick in September 2015.

Before being arrested and remanded in custody on those charges in May last year, Mackin was a senior member and main player in the New INLA.

In 2014, Mackin's associates caused a major security alert when gardai received intelligence that they planned to steal a number of garda uniforms from a Co Louth station.

When Mackin was refused bail last year in relation to the offence, a senior detective told Limerick District Court that the crime related to an attempt to extort money from the victim, who is a member of the Traveller community.

Bludgeoned

Mackin, who is originally from west Belfast, has been involved in a number of serious underworld scrapes since he was cleared of the murder of Eddie Burns as part of a dissident feud in the North.

He was the first person found guilty in a Dublin court for a murder in Belfast under the Criminal Law Jurisdiction Act of 1976.

However, in 2010 the conviction was quashed by Dublin's Court of Criminal Appeal and a retrial ordered, but it collapsed after three days, meaning Mackin was free to leave Portloaise Prison.

Burns (36) was gunned down in west Belfast in March 2007 on the same night that his friend Joe Jones was bludgeoned to death in an alleyway in north Belfast.

Another key member of the mob is a 31-year-old Ballymun criminal who is also on the run after being arrested for the murder of Gareth Hutch on May 24 last year.

Last June, his home was searched by detectives investigating the separate murder of Vincent 'Vinnie' Ryan (25) the previous February.

An investigation into Ryan's murder is continuing and five people have been arrested.

Ryan (25), a younger brother of murdered Real IRA chief Alan Ryan, was shot dead in McKee Road, Finglas.

It is understood that gardai seized paperwork and a powder substance from the home of the Ballymun criminal, who is suspected of having "key knowledge" about Vinnie Ryan's murder.

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