A man walks into a flat complex in the area he lives to meet someone. He has spent all his life here. He knows the people and the area well. He trusts the man he is going to meet. In his mind, he is going to see a friend. He therefore decides not to wear his bulletproof vest. It is a decision that ultimately costs him his life.

Jason Molyneux was shot six times in the James Larkin flats complex last Tuesday night. The 27-year-old met a man he knew there who pulled out a handgun and shot him twice in the stomach and four times in the chest. The killer drove off in a white van which he abandoned and set on fire just over two hours later.

It is early days in the murder investigation but that decision may have cost the killer his liberty; at least that is the hope of the investigation team as they await the outcome of forensic tests. Gardaí got to the van before it fully caught fire and extinguished the flames, thereby preserving vital evidence, including the suspected murder weapon - a gun, which may lead to a conviction.

The gardaí were also quick that night to pay a visit to the home of the chief suspect in north Dublin to see where he was and what he was doing. Not a man known to welcome any garda attention at any time, on this occasion not only was he delighted to see the police officers, in what must surely be a first for a major figure in organised crime in Dublin, he actually invited them into his home.

He was, he said, there all night. He even showed them his personal protection CCTV footage proving that he couldn't have been the one to pull the trigger on Jason Molyneux, although as far as he was concerned, he had ample reasons to do so.


News of another gang-related murder in Dublin's north inner city last Tuesday night was greeted with dismay and disbelief. How did this happen so soon after the murder of Derek Hutch, another local man, shot dead 11 days previously at Wheatfield prison?

Derek Hutch was in west Dublin that Saturday afternoon with two other men who told gardaí they had left the car when Derek was shot to feed horses in a paddock adjoining the prison wall. But Derek's younger brother Nathan is serving a sentence in the prison and the place by the wall is a well-known spot for throwing drugs into the jail. Derek had visited him earlier that day.

Both Nathan and Derek Hutch, along with Jason Molyneux, are all associates of the Hutch criminal gang. It is currently involved in a murderous feud with the Kinahan crime gang which has so far cost 14 lives and shows no sign of abating any time soon.

   

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Following a six-month lull in the murders in the second half of last year, the violence has again escalated over the past two months recommencing with the murder of Kane McCormack last December. He too, like Jason Molyneux, was set up - lured to his death. The 24-year-old was shot in the head on farmland in an isolated rural area along the Meath-Kildare border.

Kane's father Noel 'Duck Egg' Kirwan was also shot dead as part of the feud a year earlier. He lived in west Dublin but was originally from the north inner city and was a close friend of Gerard Hutch, the man known as the Monk. Kirwan even escorted the heavily disguised Gerard to and from his brother Eddie's funeral in February 2016 after Eddie had become the fourth victim of the feud.

Noel Kirwan's son Kane swore revenge for his father's murder but that appears to have signed his death warrant. In the meantime, Gerard Hutch has not been seen in public for two years. As the Kinahan gang's number one target, he is believed to be moving throughout Europe in a variety of disguises. Intelligence suggests he was most recently in Turkey.

With so many people from one small part of the city with real and tenuous links to one of the feuding criminal gangs being shot dead, the people of the north inner city are understandably frightened and bewildered. It is a real cause of concern for the gardaí and the community that with such high levels of security in the area, the gunmen are still getting through.

Image - An attempt was made on the life of Gerard Hutch, the man known as the Monk, in Spain last year.

An attempt was made on the life of Gerard Hutch, the man known as the Monk, in Spain last year.

The murder of Jason Molyneux took place on the night his friend Derek Hutch was waked, lying in repose in his mother Noeleen's home less than a mile down the road. The 27-year-old had paid his respects earlier in the day and was due at the funeral in the church at Sean McDermott street the following morning.

There were static and mobile units as well as uniformed and plain clothes gardaí all over the streets. Anyone driving into the north inner city last Tuesday night would have been stopped at two armed checkpoints at least. While detectives are wondering how the killer got in to the area with a gun, they are also cursing their luck because he got away.

The Superintendent in charge of the murder investigation, Gerry Murphy, said the first response unit was at the scene so quickly it could have almost crashed into the gunman as he was leaving. Gardaí also need to find out where the getaway van, the white Renault Kangoo, had been for the more than two hours from 9.45pm when the shooting occurred to 12.07am the following morning when it was found on fire at the East Link bridge.

Gardaí have also reiterated their commitment to the communities worst affected by this feud. There may have been cutbacks in overtime and a reduction in armed patrols but not, they insist, in the north inner city where they say garda activity remains as intensive as ever. They point to the hundreds of lethal weapons and the millions of euro of cash and drugs seized, as well as the fact that in preventative operations they say they have saved over 40 lives.

This is a family, not a cartel.

They also point to the fact that the cases of those arrested and charged are now beginning to appear before the courts. There were two significant convictions in the Special Criminal Court this week and three significant organised crime operatives were sent to prison. Trusted Kinahan gang lieutenants James Walsh and Jonathan Harding were jailed after they were caught in an armoury hidden behind the fake front of a legitimate logistics company. The weapons seized include loaded pistols and revolvers, an AK 47 assault rifle and a machine gun and over 1,300 rounds of ammunition.

The Kinahan's gunman Eamonn Cumberton, from Mountjoy Street in the north inner city, also this week became the first person to be convicted of a feud murder and was jailed for life. He was one of three people who shot dead Michael Barr, the manager of the Sunset House pub in Dublin two years ago. Cumberton is also a suspect in two other feud murders and for the attempt on the life of Gerard Hutch in Spain towards the end of last year.

Cumberton's DNA was found on a rubber mask and baseball cap thrown in to the getaway car which was then set on fire. But the evidence was preserved because the gardaí got there quickly and put out the fire, something they now hope will be repeated in the Jason Molyneux murder.

   

Image - David Byrne was killed at the Regency Hotel in 2016.

David Byrne was killed at the Regency Hotel in 2016.

There is also a subversive connection to the ongoing feud. Michael Barr was the sixth victim and was targeted by the Kinahan gang. They believed the dissident IRA man was involved in sourcing the AK47 assault rifles used by killers of David Byrne at the Regency Hotel in February 2016. Daniel Kinahan was at the hotel that day for the boxing weigh-in but was not injured during the attack. His company MGM, now called MTK, was promoting the event.

MTK has not organised an event in Dublin since MGM promoted the weigh-in at the Regency two years ago but senior gardaí had serious security concerns because some of the its fighters were due to appear at a forthcoming boxing competition Dublin. 

However last night the Collision Course Pro Boxing Event due to take place at Citywest Convention Centre this weekend was cancelled when the organisers couldn't get the appropriate insurance.

Image - Children ran for cover inside the National Stadium as shots were fired on the street outside.

Children ran for cover inside the National Stadium as shots were fired on the street outside.

These concerns were brought into sharp focus last weekend when boxing was once again dragged back into an association with organised crime. An attempt was made on the life of another north inner city criminal with connections to the Hutch gang at the venue where a national juvenile boxing competition was being held. Panic ensued as competitors, officials, parents and their children ran for cover inside the National Stadium as shots were fired on the street outside.



Above: Deputy Commissioner John Twomey speaks after the murder of Michael Barr in the Sunset House in the north inner city in April 2016.

A gunman chased the man down the road, firing recklessly and indiscriminately as he pursued him. A UK student in his 20s was hit in the crossfire and injured in the wrist. The intended target, a convicted armed robber, was shot in the foot. Gardaí say it was extremely fortunate that more people were not injured or killed. The Irish Amateur Boxing Association condemned the attack. The case is being treated as attempted murder.

But the Hutch-Kinahan feud is not the only feud continuing in the city and while it is the major contributor, it is not the sole contributor to the gangland violence. A feud in Clondalkin that has been going on for the past five years escalated dramatically late last year. In one week during last September, two men, Darragh Nugent and John Gibson were shot dead.

   

Image - An ongoing feud in Ballymun reignited with a double murder.

An ongoing feud in Ballymun reignited with a double murder.

The month before in August 2017, an ongoing feud in Ballymun reignited with the double murder of mother-of-six Antoinette Devoy and Clinton Shannon. Gardaí believe the intended target was Antoinette's brother, Derek 'Bottler' Devoy and that while he got away, the gunmen shot and killed his sister and his friend.

Both Jason Molyneux and the man shot and injured outside the National Stadium last Friday night have strong links to the Hutch criminal gang and while gardaí have not ruled out the Hutch-Kinahan feud as the motive for both, they now believe these attacks are more likely to be connected to the Ballymun feud. Molyneux was a suspect for a murder four years ago which was part of that feud and both he and the other man are also suspects for the double murder last August.

Image - Derek Hutch's funeral passed off peacefully on Wednesday.

Derek Hutch's funeral passed off peacefully on Wednesday.

Derek Hutch's funeral passed off peacefully last Wednesday. He could not have been laid to rest in a peaceful ceremony had his incarcerated brother Nathan not been allowed to see him one last time. In a highly secretive security operation earlier in the week, Nathan was taken from prison and allowed to say his goodbyes before being locked up again. He was back in his cell in Wheatfield prison when the funeral took place.

The congregation at Derek's mass heard his murder described as "a violent, cowardly and barbaric" act and of the grief of his mother Noeleen, brother Nathan, and "two beautiful children" - a boy and a girl.

The mourners applauded when one of Derek's friends told them: "This is a family, not a cartel."

The celebrant described Dublin's north inner city as "a place and space where decent people try to live their lives as best they can" with its "neighbourliness, care and concern for each other".

He described the feud as "this spiral of violence, revenge and retaliation" which is responsible for "the ensnarement of many in what can only be described as evil".

And from the pulpit, Fr Michael Casey did not spare the killers, whom he called "those with hardened hearts who have cut themselves off from life's source".

They are, he said, people "who have become soulless" who inhabit a "dark world" and who have become the "living dead".