Following on from last Friday’s gun attack at a sporting event in Dublin’s Regency Hotel, which left one man dead and several more wounded, all sorts of allegations and analyses have featured in the national press, each more prosperous than the last. The most important matter at the moment is a verbal statement issued to Vincent Kearney, a BBC correspondent in Belfast, by an intermediary claiming to represent the leadership of the Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA), a breakaway section of the Republican Movement which emerged in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In the exchange, which came with a new and unknown codeword, the CIRA representative told the BBC reporter that:
“…its members were responsible.
The CIRA spokesman claimed Mr Byrne was targeted because he had been involved in the killing of Alan Ryan in Dublin four years ago.
Ryan, 32, was a leading member of another dissident republican group, the Real IRA. He was shot dead in September 2012.
“Although not a member of our organisation, we are not going to stand back and allow drug dealers and criminals to target republicans,” the CIRA spokesman said.
“This will not be an isolated incident,” he said.
“Continuity IRA units have been authorised to carry out further operations. More drug dealers and criminals will be targeted.
“The Continuity IRA will carry out further military operations.”
Which begs the question? Which Continuity IRA? Is it the barely functioning group of would-be insurgents based in Belfast, Lurgan and Derry? Or perhaps it’s the drug-dealing security contractors and bouncers in Dublin? Or maybe it’s the junkies and snot-nosed gangbangers in Limerick? Any two or three of these factions could claim to be the real CIRA, and are not hesitant about enforcing those claims. Despite reports that a “leadership” grouping is said to have taken control of the “Continuity” name in recent times and expelled those who brought the movement into “disrepute” there is no real evidence of a return to a single CIRA organisation as yet. Especially as criminals are still swaggering around the environs of the capital demanding money with menaces, and selling poison to kids, in the name of various self-declared CIRA figures.
As for claims by any faction of the Continuity IRA to have the capacity to engage in “military operations”? Bollocks. Fifty assorted middle-aged men and teenage boys with access to pump-action shotguns, revolvers and thirty year old assault rifles purloined from the bunkers and arms-dumps of the Provisional IRA does not make for an army. Even an underground one.
In truth, while CIRA volunteers, real or imagined, are perfectly capable of carrying out murders on behalf of the country’s druglords, the main claimant to the “Continuity” brand had no part in the events at the Regency Hotel, and certainly not on behalf of the late and nominally republican Alan Ryan, a Dublin leader of the rival Real IRA (restyled in 2012 as the New IRA). In fact most informed journalists are perfectly capable of naming the criminal gang behind last Friday’s outrage, and the individuals who ordered it, which makes the gullible acceptance by some press folk of the misinformation issued in Belfast all the more bizarre.
You’d almost think there was an election happening or something…
Finally, and contrary to everything you’ve read, seen or heard in the news media from so-called experts, the gunmen who carried out the attack on Friday were not armed with Russian-made Kalashnikov AK-47, AK-74 or AKM assault rifles, all rechambered or modernised versions of the same weapon. They were armed with AIM 7.62 automatic assault rifles, an export version of the Romanian Pistol Mitralieră model 1963, a locally-produced and frankly inferior version of the Soviet-era AKM. Nor were the weapons pictured in images or described by eye-witnesses at the Regency Hotel “brand spanking new”. They were clearly older rifles, taken from (P)IRA stocks before the decommissioning process of the early 2000s or imported by the narco-terrorist gangs themselves. Literally tens of thousands of AIM rifles and its folding-stock AIMS variant are floating around the arms’ markets of Europe and most end up in the same smuggling networks as the drugs which pay for them.
UPDATE 02.00: From a report by RTÉ,
“…a second statement made this evening, also believed to be from the Continuity IRA, has denied any involvement in the attack.
“The Continuity IRA wish to make it clear that we did not have any involvement in Friday’s shooting at the Regency Hotel,” it said.
“We have absolutely no involvement in criminal feuds. We see the false claim that the CIRA were involved in this act as another attempt to tarnish the name of the organisation.”
Des Dalton, president of Republican Sinn Féin, said he had spoken to republican sources who had confirmed the second statement and rejected the claim of responsibility.
“I have been told that it was a bogus statement and an attempt to smear the Continuity IRA,” he said.
Earlier, gardaí investigating the shooting at the hotel in Drumcondra said they believe at least two of the six attackers – some of them armed with AK-47 rifles – may have travelled from outside the country.”
As I said. Not the “mainstream” CIRA faction, or possibly any CIRA faction, but simply gangsters fighting turfwars and vendettas with other gangsters.
UPDATE 14.00: From the Irish Times newspaper, the latest gangland shooting in the capital, former petty criminal, Eddie Hutch snr:
“The father and taxi driver, who was in his 50s, was the latest victim of a feud between a gang loyal to murdered criminal Gary Hutch and one led by international drugs trafficker Christy Kinahan.
Eddie Hutch was killed despite additional armed Garda checkpoints and patrols put in place to quell the violence.
Four men burst into the home of Eddie Hutch on Poplar Row in the north inner city and shot him dead in the hallway of the house at about 7.45pm. He was hit several times and died immediately.
In the late 1990s he was targeted by the Criminal Assets Bureau over allegations he helped his brother Gerry Hutch, known as The Monk, to launder the proceeds of robberies.
Their nephew, drug dealer and armed robber Gary Hutch (34), was shot dead in Spain last September. He was once a member of the Spain-based major Irish drugs cartel led by Dubliner Christy Kinahan and was killed because they believed he was an informer.
Last Friday a six-strong gang, three armed with AK47s and two with handguns, attacked members of the Kinahan gang in the Regency Hotel as revenge for Hutch’s murder.
Crumlin man David Byrne was shot dead and two others were injured though Christy Kinahan’s son Daniel escaped.
Monday night’s murder is believed to have been carried out by members of the Kinahan gang as revenge for Friday’s shooting.”