‘Ya riddled your uncle’s house’ – Mary Lou McDonald’s key aide allegedly challenged Jonathan Dowdall over shooting
- Sinn Féin leader says she didn’t know councillor was criminal
- Brian Keane was Sinn Féin director of elections in Dublin
- Trial of Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch heard Keane quizzed Dowdall about attack that was carried out in 2011
Mary Lou McDonald checking tallies with Sinn Féin director of elections for Dublin Brian Keane at the RDS count centre for the 2014 local elections, when Jonathan Dowdall was elected as a councillor. Pic: Sinn Féin An Phoblacht
April 18 2023 02:30 AM
A Sinn Féin official who allegedly stood up to Jonathan Dowdall about his criminal activity is a key aide of party leader Mary Lou McDonald.
Ms McDonald’s claims Sinn Féin had “no inkling” about Mr Dowdall involvement in crime. But this stance is contradicted by evidence in the trial of Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch.
A well-respected Sinn Féin staff member reportedly confronted Mr Dowdall about involvement in a gun attack before he was elected as a Sinn Féin councillor. Sinn Féin has not responded to the allegations aired in court five months ago.
Mr Dowdall, a protege of Ms McDonald’s, was a gangland criminal and connected to dissident republican terrorists.
He made a number of financial contributions to Sinn Féin, including a €1,000 cheque donated to Ms McDonald. Mr Dowdall was described in the Special Criminal Court yesterday as a “ruthless, base, callous criminal” and it was also stated he was “a suspected member of the IRA”.
He was also branded a “liar” and a “master manipulator” during the trial and was found to have lied to the gardaí and the courts.
Mr Dowdall has been convicted of torturing a man, while he was still a Sinn Féin councillor. He has also been convicted of his involvement in the gangland murder of David Byrne at the Regency Hotel in February 2016, only a year after he resigned from Sinn Féin.
The murder started the deadly Kinahan-Hutch feud. Mr Dowdall then drove Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch to a meeting with dissident republicans in Northern Ireland.
Gardai outside the Regency Hotel where David Byrne was murdered in 2016. Photo: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie
In conversations on that journey, bugged by gardaí, Mr Dowdall tells Mr Hutch he was questioned by Sinn Féin about a gun attack on his uncle’s home. The house on the Howth Road in Dublin was shot at on the night of March 31, 2011.
In the evidence played in the Special Criminal Court, Mr Dowdall says Brian Keane, a long-time senior Sinn Féin official, summoned him to a meeting before the 2014 local elections.
Mr Keane is the only Sinn Féin figure to have confronted Mr Dowdall. He was Sinn Féin director of elections for the local elections Dublin in 2014. He was also the election agent for Sinn Féin’s European candidate Lynn Boylan.
Brian Keane, Sinn Féin director of elections for Dublin for the party’s campaign in local elections in 2014. Pic: Sinn Féin An Phoblacht
Mr Keane is close to the Sinn Féin leadership, has worked for Ms McDonald and her predecessor, Gerry Adams, and is a good friend of Pearse Doherty, who attended his wedding.
Mr Keane has held several high-ranking positions in Sinn Féin over the past 15 years having been active in Ógra Shinn Féin as a student. The 39-year-old was appointed as national administrator at the age of just 25, he has served on the party’s national executive and has also worked for the party in Leinster House.
In the court evidence, Mr Dowdall says Mr Keane and another Sinn Féin official, Stephen McCormick, summoned him to a meeting before the local elections.
Mr Dowdall tells Mr Hutch that Mr Keane was “DOE over Dublin, he’s after ringing me non-stop, he arrived at my gaff three times” and that during the meeting “Brian Keane is doing all the talking”. On the tapes, Mr Dowdall says Mr Keane said to him “ya riddled your uncle’s house” and “he says this is my job to ask this in case it comes out in the media”.
Brian Keane, Sinn Féin director of elections in Dublin for the party’s campaign in local elections in 2014. Pic: Sinn Féin An Phoblacht
The Garda Press Office confirmed there was an incident: “Gardaí investigated the discharge of a firearm that occurred at a residence on Howth Road, Raheny, Dublin 5, on Thursday, March 31, 2011. No persons have been charged as a result of this investigation,”
When the tapes first emerged in court last November, Sinn Féin were asked to comment but have not responded.
Mary Lou McDonald and Jonathan Dowdall after Sinn Féin candidates handed in their nomination papers for the 2014 local elections. Photo: Sinn Féin An Phoblacht
But Ms McDonald has repeatedly said there was nothing to suggest Mr Dowdall was involved in criminality.
“Jonathan Dowdall should never have been a member of Sinn Féin. Had I known what he would become involved in he would not have been a party member for one minute, never mind running for public office – I would not tolerate that,” she said last night.
Ms McDonald also rejected comments made about her during the course of this trial, which alleged Sinn Féin received support from the Hutch family. “I have never met Gerard Hutch. I have never received money or electoral support from Gerard Hutch,” she said.
The shooting at Mr Dowdall’s uncle’s house and the subsequent meeting with Sinn Féin officials came up repeatedly at the Regency Hotel murder trial.
Aside from the taped conversations, Mr Dowdall was also questioned about the incidents in cross-examination by Mr Hutch’s legal counsel. He has denied carrying out the attack on his uncle’s house.
“I did not do anything to him and his house.
“A shot was put into his house. It was years ago,” he said in court.
The defence claimed Mr Dowdall had a falling out with his uncle and investigating gardai were told he was the only person the victim of the attack had any trouble with. But the prosecution said this allegation was not accurate and another person was named.
Court sketch of former Sinn Fein councillor Jonathan Dowdall being cross examined by Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch’s defence barrister, Brendan Grehan SC. Photo: Elizabeth Cook/PA Wire
Mr Hutch’s counsel, Brendan Grehan SC, read from a transcript of the tape of Mr Dowdall’s conversation with Mr Hutch. Mr Dowdall speaks about being asked by Sinn Féin about the attack on his uncle’s house.
“Your man Stephen McCormick, I don’t know him. He’s sitting there watching it and Brian Keane is doing all the talking.”