Real IRA thug pleads guilty to murder of Kelly
A REAL IRA thug has pleaded guilty to the murder of crime kingpin Eamon Kelly in north Dublin two-and-half years ago.
Sean Connolly (35) had been charged at the non-jury Special Criminal Court with Mr Kelly's murder at Furry Park Road, Killester.
Connolly had also been charged with IRA membership and with possession of a firearm on the same occasion.
His trial on all three counts was due to commence yesterday in the three-judge court.
However, Connolly, of Bernard Curtis House, Bluebell, pleaded guilty to the murder of Mr Kelly on his arraignment and the court was told that the remaining two counts would proceed no further.
Counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Paul Greene SC, told the court that there were three counts on the indictment and a response to the count of murder was "likely".
Connolly's barrister, Paul Burns SC, confirmed that his client "may be arraigned" on the count of murder.
When asked how he would plead to count 1 - that on December 4, 2012, in Killester in Dublin, he murdered Eamon Kelly - Connolly said "guilty".
Mr Greene told the court that a nolle prosequi - a decision not to proceed - would be entered on the outstanding counts.
A Victim Impact Report was being prepared, Mr Greene said, and a date of May 1 was set for the court to convene again.
The trial, which was expected to last three weeks, was due to be heard before Mr Justice Paul Butler, Judge Alison Lindsay and Judge Flann Brennan.
There was a large garda presence in court with senior officers, detectives and uniformed gardai in attendance.
Eamon Kelly (65) was considered the godfather of Irish crime because he was involved in serious organised criminality for more than four decades.
He was the first person of significance ever to be convicted for trafficking cocaine into Ireland and was a long-time target of the IRA.
Connolly was associated with the RIRA for the best part of a decade.
His first serious conviction came in March 2001 when he received a four-year jail term for the attempted armed robbery of bookmakers in Clondalkin.
During his incarceration in Portlaoise's high-security prison, sources said he aligned himself with several hard-line Republicans, and upon his release became heavily involved with the Real IRA and slain terror boss Alan Ryan.
In April 2012 he was arrested for the shooting of Keith Deegan, a banker who was mistakenly targeted in a revenge shooting. Connolly has close links with members of killer Brian Rattigan's gang, who is one of his childhood friends.