Sunday 21 January 2018

Cahill victim warns of the rise in power of gangs

'The General' Martin Cahill
'The General' Martin Cahill

The man who established Ireland's forensics lab and was the victim of an attempted murder by Martin Cahill has warned that criminal gangs are growing in wealth once again.

Dr James O'Donovan was the senior forensic scientist to the Garda Technical Bureau until his retirement in 2002.

He was instrumental in the State's operations against the IRA and Martin Cahill - known as The General.

Cahill organised for plastic explosive to be attached to the exhaust manifold of the respected doctor's car.

Dr O'Donovan survived the horrific attack but was left with a permanent crippling injury.

Speaking in light of the recent gangland murders on RTE's Liveline, Dr O'Donovan said that gangsters could not be reasoned with.

He warned that high-profile gangland funerals are evidence of the increasing power of drugs gangs. "It shows that crime gangs have ­increased in power and wealth over the years," he said.


"Obviously the funeral (of David Byrne) was an indication, a statement that 'we have the money and we have the power' and didn't somebody once say that power comes from the barrel of a gun."

Dr O'Donovan warned that, in his experience, the gangs would not be agreeable to any sort of mediation. "They are not going to be amenable to ­rational discussion at all," he said.

Cahill attempted to murder Dr O'Donovan in January 1982. The gangster believed that ­advancements in forensic science would link him to robberies and other crimes.

As the State's chief forensic scientist, Dr O'Donovan became a target. He was driving to work when the heat from the exhaust caused the explosives to detonate.

It was thought at the time that the IRA had carried out the attack, because it was believed that such resources were outside the reach of ordinary criminals.

The former civil servant was also a key figure in invetstigating the paramilitary group's terrorist atrocities.

Dr O'Donovan revealed yesterday that he still needs treatment every four weeks, 35 years on from the attack by Cahill.


He said that he has never received any State aid for the treatment he requires.

Former justice minister ­Dermot Ahern also spoke to the show. He appealed for people to come forward, even anonymously, to provide information about gangs.

He also revealed he turned down a request for the use of Department of Social Welfare offices by the film crew who made the 1998 film The General, about the Dublin crime boss.

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