Gardaí warn ‘fake news’ campaign is being orchestrated by the Kinahan cartel
On fifth anniversary of Regency attack, Assistant Commissioner says wealthy crime gang paying for ‘spin’
February 04 2021 07:38 PM
The senior garda in charge of investigating serious and organised crime has raised concerns about a “fake news” campaign being orchestrated by the Kinahan cartel.
Assistant Commissioner John O’Driscoll said that the force, including Garda chief Drew Harris, were anxious to address recent reports from various sources on organised crime, “some of which fits in to what is commonly referred to as fake news”.
He said that criminal gangs were accumulating finances on a par with multi-national companies and that some of that wealth was being used to put a “spin” on events or particular groups involved in criminality.
The senior investigator also told a press conference this afternoon that gardaí are still hopeful of prosecutions in the Regency Hotel murder investigation, which happened five years ago, and are awaiting directions from the DPP.
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The purpose of today’s press briefing, he said, was to show that gardaí were being accountable and talking about where the organisation stands on its inquiries into organised crime.
It follows a statement issued by Daniel Kinahan to Irish Independent journalist Ken Foy in which he denied any links to criminality and claimed he is the victim of an orchestrated campaign.
Asked about Kinahan’s claims that gardaí had presented opinion as fact in certain cases, Mr O’Driscoll said he would let the courts speak to that.
He referred to the sentencing hearing of cartel foot-soldier Mark Capper last May in which the three-judge panel agreed with the Garda evidence that the Kinahan organised crime gang was involved in murders and the trafficking of drugs and firearms.
Assistant Commissioner John O’Driscoll at the media briefing at Garda Headquarters, Phoenix Park, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Mr O’Driscoll also said that claims made by Kinahan – who he did not name – that he would not receive a fair trial in Ireland was a matter for the courts.
The senior investigator referenced a mini-documentary about the Regency Hotel which accused gardaí and the government of staging the attack to influence the result of the general election.
He said that this illustrated the capacity of organised crime groups to spend the resources that were required to produce such a video.
The issue with ‘fake news’, he said, is that the people who make those assertions don’t make themselves available to be held accountable.
“It goes beyond this jurisdiction. I’ve seen for example documents purporting to emanate from international law enforcement agencies circulated in a purported book about organised crime.
“The most important aspect of fake news is that people are not accountable for it,” Mr O’Driscoll said.
He accepted that gardaí have not yet managed to dismantle the Kinahan crime gang but said they were in the process of achieving this through the seizure of cash and drugs as well as convictions.
Gardaí are continuing to liaise with their international colleagues and have sent members of the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (GNDOCB) to the Middle-East, where many of the cartel’s hierarchy are based.
In the past two years alone, the GNDOCB’s investigations have led to 65 people receiving prison sentences of five years or more for a range of offences including murder, firearms possession, drug trafficking and conspiracy to murder. The majority of these convictions related to the Kinahan gang through their feud with the Hutch mob, which has seen up to 18 murders.
The Garda’s success, the Assistant Commissioner said, may also have inadvertently caused an issue for the Irish Prison Service with the high number of feuding criminals put behind bars.
Commenting ahead of the fifth anniversary of the Regency Hotel murder tomorrow, he said that gardaí stand prepared to intervene in any serious crime if needed, whether there is an anniversary or not.
Asked about previous criticisms from the family of the victim in that shooting, David Byrne (33), Mr O’Driscoll said that the investigation was very comprehensive and ongoing.
“Certainly there is the prospect of prosecutions in circumstances where the DPP has not yet directed on all of the evidence we have provided,” he added.
The senior garda’s comments follow Daniel Kinahan claiming last weekend that he has no involvement in criminality and that the only previous Garda investigation against him was dropped over a lack of evidence.
In a statement issued on his behalf, he was described as a family man with no criminal convictions, who was the victim of a campaign by the media and the State.
“The opinion of Garda, expressed during court proceedings unconnected to Daniel, is routinely presented as fact, absent of scrutiny or context,” the statement says.
Daniel Kinahan himself is quoted as saying: “A lie repeated one hundred times is still a lie. My wish, as is my God-given right, is to continue my professional and family life in peace and without continued harassment and I will vigorously defend my right to do so.”
The 43-year-old has previously been described in the High Court as directing the day-to-day criminal operations of the Kinahan organised crime gang.