Top garda says Kinahans were ‘surprised’ by Regency shooting
“It could have happened in O’Connell Street, it could have happened as they drove from the airport”
The man who headed the Garda’s anti-gangland unit today defends the decision not to have any officers at the Regency Hotel when the Hutch gang launched its deadly attack there.
Former assistant commissioner Michael O’Sullivan said: “Nobody thought anything was going to happen there at the Regency.” The force has been under criticism for not having detectives watching the spot when it was raided by the Hutch gang on February 5, 2016.
The attack saw Kinahan cartel associate David Byrne shot down at a boxing weigh in. But Mr O’Sullivan is unrepentant in an exclusive interview for crime podcast, Shattered Lives, which airs today. Mr O’Sullivan, who was head of the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau at the time of the shooting, told the pod that gardai had no idea an attack was being planned.
He said: “A handful of people knew this was a surprise attack at the Regency. It could have happened in O’Connell Street, it could have happened as they drove from the airport.
“The Kinahans were as surprised as anybody – as the guards were.” Mr O’Sullivan, who retired as an assistant commissioner in 2017 after 40 years, said gardai had limited resources and could not be at every gathering the Kinahans went to.
He said: “You deploy resources, the scant resources you have, to where you know illegal activity is going to happen. If a couple of guys are flying over and they are going to have a handover… and you know this is going to happen, you would deploy resources because this is going to be an illegal act and there is a possibility of seizing drugs and arresting people.
“People meeting at a weigh in is no different to people going down to the Point to watch a boxing match, or the people going to a session, or the people going to a concert. Nobody thought anything was going to happen there at the Regency, least of all the Kinahans.
“The Kinahans were as surprised as anybody – as the guards were. Everybody knew that the weigh in was happening, it was a matter of public record, there was just no point.
“It is a misconcentration of resources to have your people chasing every time criminals go from A to B. You’ll get nothing.
“It’s selective operations and a weigh in is never going to be a selective operation. Now if there is intelligence there is going to be a shootout, that is a different ball game. But there wasn’t.
“But absolutely nobody had any idea and if the criminals had no idea we certainly had no idea.” Mr O’Sullivan also tells the podcast he believes cartel bosses brought the global crackdown led by the US on their own shoulders by running the feud against the Hutch gang.
He said of the mob: “They are in trouble.” America has now hit Daniel, 44, Christopher, 42, and Christy, 65, with $5million bounties and have been staying put in their UAE bolthole.
Mr O’Sullivan said he believes the cartel is doomed because the US Drugs Enforcement Administration is leading the hunt against them. He added: “The DEA are on the trail of that cartel and nobody has yet outrun the DEA.
“They are in to for the long haul. You look at their track record for breaking cartels… they have a huge global reach. The world becomes a smaller place when the DEA are on your trail.”
He said that was because of the cartel decision to wage war on Dublin streets after the murder of Byrne. Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch, 59, is currently awaiting the verdict of the Special Criminal Court after he went on trial for the Byrne murder.
Mr O’Sullivan added: “From a business perspective, you can’t run around like Al Capone and not draw attention to yourself. The more successful groupings are the ones who are behind crime and are keeping their heads down – they are not drawing attention to themselves.
“You do that sort of stuff and you will draw the attention of law enforcement – and that’s what happened.” He also said he was shocked by the ferocity of the Kinahan response to the Regency attack – which saw them murder more a dozen people in two years, as well as try to kill 70 more.
Mr O’Sullivan added: “It was a feud on steroids, there was just no rhyme nor reason. This was crazy stuff. I think everyone was surprised at the ferocity and the viciousness and the pointlessness of what went on.”
And he makes this sideswipe at Daniel Kinahan, although he did not name him. He added: “The people behind the deaths did it because they could.
“Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. They had so much money and they had so much power.
“The people responsible are guys who believe their own propaganda – and off they went and did what they did.”