Dissidents and the Drugs War Spotlight

Dissidents and the Drugs War

Stephen Dempster investigates the murder of Real IRA leader Alan Ryan and the consequences unfolding on both sides of the border.

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Dissident republicans are killing people they claim are drug dealers,


so what has that got to do with their war? You struggle to find the


actual struggle in what they are doing. And what happens when the


drug dealer hits back? If you shoot one drug dealer, 10 others pop up.


These things escalators go beyond control. These organised gangs are


armed to the teeth and they are An afternoon last month in north


Dublin. The Real IRA leader Alan Ryan is openly strolling with


friends in the area he has built His murder is an astonishing


challenge to the Real IRA by Dublin's drug gangs. And they had


dared to kill the most senior Real IRA figure in the city. While there


may be a perception in Northern Ireland that organised crime gangs


would never take on members he of the IRA, that does not exist south


of the border. A lot of the criminal groups are manned by young


men who live chaotic lives, are very well armed, and would think


nothing of going off and murdering more republicans if they have do.


Drug dealers control the city, not the public call the police, and


they think they are in pitched well and they have taken out the biggest


achieve. -- that they are Alan Ryan was allegedly arming and


killing drug dealers in Northern Ireland. His murder has been viewed


by the Real IRA as an act of war. The dissident groups initial


response was a Major show of strength at the funeral, which


shocked the Republic establishment. Were new have a 1,000 people


marching through a suburb in north Dublin led by an IRA colour party,


that took the government by surprise, that is not something


that is seen. You might have 50 dissidents in the country, but I


think that page truth to that life. There is a more serious problem


developing south of the border than anyone would like to admit or had


realised. They weren't all republicans, they weren't all


dissidence, but the vast majority were there because they saw what he


was doing in relation to the drugs issue. The dissidents have tried to


get national support by a killing alleged drug dealers. Last week


they also blamed for murdering a small-time dealer Danny McCain in


north Belfast. People in the street say they heard about half a dozen


shops and a car speeding off. They are building on a strategy first


used by the Provisional IRA nearly 20 years ago. What you see the


dissidents do is Borough pages from the Book of the IRA. That is


sending messages from criminals and the community, but also sending a


message but they are here to protect you. But with the murder of


Alan Ryan, the dissidents face something that the Provisional IRA


didn't, dealers to fight back. So have the Real IRA miscalculated in


taking on the drug gangs? In trying to use this issue to build support


are they getting sucked into a battle that can never be one?


Tonight on Spotlight we assess the deadly confrontation and we ask


what is happening within dissident republicanism north and south?


gloves are off. There are no boundaries, no limits and the Real


IRA with the death of Alan Ryan realise this will be a serious


battle and whoever blinks first will be gone. So why and how did


the Real IRA get themselves so wrapped up in the volatile Dublin


drugs scene? Surprisingly, part of the story can be traced back here,


a sleepy corner of County Down. For decades, Dublin has wrestled with a


growing and exceptionally violent criminal underworld. One that has


produced a series of crime bosses, men like David Lindsay. Nicknamed


Baby face by the tabloid press, he and an associate disappeared in


July 2008. 10 months later, they go unexpectedly arrived at a bungalow,


informing the unsuspected owners that the properties had to be


searched. The house had been rented out, and underneath a floor inside,


police found traces of blood and DNA belonging to David Lindsay and


his friend. David Lindsay and his associate had disappeared off the


streets of the republic. But the belief is that they died violently,


here, in a remote part of Northern Ireland. Their bodies have never


been found. To this day, the PSNI refused to discuss the case. If you


think the Dublin drug war stops at the border, think again. There is


no limits today in the savagery and lends these people will go, which


has reached depths of depravity that we had not even imagined.


Lindsay is believed to have been murdered by this man, Michael Kelly,


also known as the Panda. The killing helped make Killick --


Kelly a Major figure in the Dublin underworld. But he was murdered as


well, allegedly by a Real IRA gang led by Alan Ryan. The killing was


the dissident statement of intent, that they would now be controlling


the crime scene in the city. Crime Correspondent Alan Sherry has


brought me to the streets were Alan Ryan's gang was based, close to


where they reportedly killed Kelly. How did that take Alan Ryan to


another level? That marked him out as the main player on the scene in


that gangland. There was no doubt that these people were not to be


messed with. In the Dublin crime scene, extreme violence appears to


pay. Gangland killings on the rise. Gerry O'Carroll investigated over


80 murders. He was the inspiration for the character in this movie


about Dublin's original crime boss. He was known as the general. A


retired detective thinks the film romanticised his relationship with


Cahill, but he considers it a classic. They think I know your


wiles and ways, but it can only end one way, Martin, keep on like this.


Before he was murdered by the Provisional IRA, K Hill predicted


this new generation of extremely violent gangs -- Cahill. He said in


his inimitable Dublin accent, if you think I'm bad, wait and see


what's coming behind me. And his words have become chillingly


fulfilled, because the modern breed of gangsters that run the drugs


scene in this country are literally beyond comparison. These are


psychopaths, often on cocaine, up to the eyeballs, believing


themselves to be invincible. They have displayed a viciousness and


ruthlessness and a savagery that is unparalleled, and makes other old


time gangsters look like Sunday- school boys. The brutal gang


warfare has taken innocent lives. Apprentice plumber Anthony Campbell


was working in a house that, unknown to him, was occupied by a


Major drug dealer. He was fixing a radiator when two gunmen walked in.


They obviously went in with faces on, and because Anthony would have


been able to identify them, he just was shot. He was shot through the


hand he raised in self-defence. was 20, not even a man. Still


finding himself. Out doing an honest day's living. Alan Ryan


would impose himself on this chaotic drugs war. He grew up on


Dublin's north side, and from a younger age was schooled in


militant republicanism. As a teenager around the time of the


Good Friday Agreement, he joined the Real IRA. He first came to


public attention in 1999. He was one of six men arrested at a Real


IRA underground training camp in County Meath. He was jailed for


four years also up he had been in jail in Port Laoise, and he'd


obviously become staunchly republican in jail, if not


beforehand. The when he came out he got involved in running doors on


the pubs and bit by bit they were taking on small-scale drug dealers.


As well as starting to flex his muscles in Dublin, Ryan also became


an important figure in the Real IRA as a whole. It would be fair to say,


as far as we know, who -- she was a Major figure in the Real IRA. This


was a Major figure engaged in activities that were contrary to


the well-being of most people on this island that were intent on


bringing us back to the bad old days. According to journalist,


Ryan's Dublin unit acted as a fundraiser and supplier for fellow


dissidents in the north. Dating back to the Provisional IRA, Dublin


republicans would provide logistical support to IRA units


north of the border, and Alan Ryan would have provided something


similar. What they do is generate money, provide stolen cars and


provide guns whenever they can. They need the money for the


organisation. Dublin seems to be, from what they can tell, is where


the main and out of money is coming from for the organisation, so it


seems that Alan was given a licence to do what he needed to do to raise


the money. If you are sending up the cash, you need to tackle the


drugs gangs, you have our backing. Much of the money Alan Ryan raised


went overboard into Northern Ireland to the Real IRA's most


significant stronghold. We have come to Londonderry to follow that


money trail. Spotlight has learned that included Ryan fronting an


operation smuggling cigarettes But his frequent visits to the city


were about more than this. Because Derry is where he would meet up


with hardline republican associates. Ryan's friends claim he was a


militant republican, but not involved in organised crime.


That prominent spokesman for the 32 County sovereignty Movement has one


The Alan Ryan I knew was a genuine, committed Republican, very kind and


very generous person. He was a socialist and cared about his


community and Alan had a social conscience. That's right, yes, Alan


a member of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, he would have


attended meetings, Sovereignty meetings, he would have been a


familiar face on protests, pickets and similar activities. You are


saying you knew him as a political person, the person that the media


has talked about is someone that they would say was a crime boss.


Definitely not, no. That couldn't be further from the truth. He was


the leader eventually of the real IRA in Dublin, so he wasn't a choir


boy. There is a difference between not being a choir boy and being a


crime boss. Alan wasn't a criminal, Alan Moss and a gangster. Allen may


have been portrayed as such by certain tabloid newspapers. The


reality is that there is not one shred of evidence to support these


accusations. There was no doubt in my mind that these were accusations


that were being fed to sections of the media by the Free State


Establishment. It was in Derry that the Real IRA's campaign against


drugs first came to prominence. It was here that we learned the


dissident groups relationship with the drugs scene may be more complex


than it first appears. A short drive outside the city. What


happened at this location became a major embarrassment for the Real


IRA. From the outside this House looks like any other, but inside


the police found a cannabis factory with an estimated street value of


half a million euro. In January 2010 the house have been filled


with quiet -- with cannabis plants and going equipment. The difficult


for the Real IRA was that this house was owned by one of the most


senior members. The dissidents now had a drugs problem. The house


belonged to this man, Seamus McGreevy, one of the Real IRA's


most senior figures. After the discovery, Seamus McGreevy was


found dead, believed to have killed himself. It was now imperative for


the dissident group that they distance themselves from the Drug


House and the implication they may have been involved. They did so in


the most brutal fashion. The house was being looked after by Kieran


Doherty, an ex Real IRA member from Derry. On a February night in 2010,


he was found shot dead outside the city. Q and uncle, Vincent Coyle,


has brought me to the place where his nephew was killed. Kieran was


once a close friend of Alan Ryan. But it's the family's belief that


the murder involve the Dublin Real IRA, setting out an air crusade


against drugs. This is such a beautiful quiet spot, Vincent, yet


something terrible happened here. This is one of the most picturesque


places in the city. What actually happened to Kieran that night? On


the night that he left the house. He left to meet friends that he


travelled from the Republic to meet them. It's a belief that Kieran was


brought to the spot naked. The police believe that there was no


struggle on the night. They believe that he knew the people he was with.


Q&A be believed he would be kneecapped. Instead, they kept him


going to the last minutes and shot him twice to their head. When he


lay on the ground, once more to the heart. His like this body lay on


the ground while his blood ran down this hill. Why is it that you're


connecting Alan Ryan's debt to Kieran step? It's the belief of the


family that Alan Ryan would have known about Kieran's debt and would


have known the background to his death. The fact that he was a


member of the Real IRA, that Kieran was an ex-member and its that many


years in prison with Alan Ryan. He would have had to know the


circumstances under which Kieran died. Last week, the police


detective investigating Kieran's murder revealed he had tried but


failed to extradite someone from what he referred to as another


jurisdiction. Spotlight has learnt that this man was in fact the


senior Real IRA member in Dublin, and close associate of Alan Ryan.


The Real IRA have officially said that Kieran Dougherty was murdered


for involvement in drugs. But the Dougherty family has always


rejected this, amid suggestions Kieran was made the scapegoat for


the Donegal drugs house. The link between two Real IRA figures and a


drugs factory was deeply suspicious. It led to speculation the


organisation was more closely involved in the drugs trade than it


cared to admit. But they insist it does not deal in drugs. A I think


the death of Kieran Dougherty was very tragic, particularly for his


family. It seems to be that drugs again are at the centre of this and


the young man lost his life I feel it is a very tragic situation. It


would say that the republican stance is consistent against drugs.


Would you agreed with killing drug dealers? Well, how to deal with


drug dealers? Drug dealers aren't the type of people who you can sit


down and written with. Q and Dougherty's murder brought the Real


IRA very publicly into line with another group in Derry, Republican


Action Against Drugs, set up solely to target dealers. Spotlight


witnessed the beginnings of this merger in June. During a PSNI


search by officers investigating republicans against -- Republican


Action Against drugs, dissident republicans turned out in support,


including Gary Donnelly of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement. Then


this happened. BOMB GHOST, all. Around the corner, at PSNI vehicle


was hit by a blast bomb. This was the first moment to its


organisation first to a De Wet Barry -- in their weaponry on


police officers. It was also the first signal they were a line with


the Real IRA. In July, a statement issued announcing a new


organisation, calling themselves the IRA. The Real IRA was very keen


to lose their own name and identity. They are publicly associated with


the murder of 29 people and unborn twins at home in 1988. They never


recovered after that. So there were quite keen on amalgamating with


another gripping. It's an old thread dressed up and a new name.


You have a coalition, so it is there any mystery is there any


secret about what this new coalition and balls? No, there's


not. These people, to borrow a phrase that was used many years ago,


these people are the same people in different balaclavas. Despite did


edition of rap, people still continue to refer to the gripping


as the Real IRA. But the organisation has also been


strengthened further by the addition of independent dissidents,


including those believed to have murdered Constable Ronan Kerr last


year in a coma. The so republican grouping had a lot of technical


expertise in terms of producing bombs and avoiding detection from


the security services. That is what makes a very dangerous.


operation there was exposed in Dublin demonstrated just how


dangerous and ambitious the new group can be. Former Garda


inspector Gerry O'Carroll has from the to the place where Gardai


uncovered a wheels -- a Real IRA surveillance plot designed to


collect intelligence and police officers. A my right here is guard


headquarters, were specialised police units are based. It was on a


building but the Real IRA surveillance team were based here


at Blaha Court Hotel. Last month, Gardai discovered dissidents had


set up recording and photographic equipment there without the hotel's


knowledge and were spying on Dublin's top police teams.


close quite extraordinary. But these gangsters would have the


audacity to coming here to a building opposite Garda


headquarters, a building that is used by many officers for


socialising. It has serious, serious and sinister implications


for the safety and security of the state and for the safety and


security of the personnel in this building. What does it say about


the intent and capabilities of the dissidents? It shows what they're


capable of doing. But these people are as serious, serious threat now


under threat is growing. The menace of the Real IRA grows by the day.


It is a keeper Billy Kirby been directed more towards a drugs war


than a so-called armed struggle in Northern Ireland? And, if so, why?


We has also done -- we have spoken the dissident republicans who


recognise the right across roads. At a time when they are we


organising, they are in danger of getting sucked into a prolonged its


drug war. So why have the Real IRA got themselves embroiled in a war


that drug dealers in Dublin? Mon me. The traditional ways of raising


money for the paramilitaries with bank robberies, post-office


robberies, kidnappings, although the last number of years, the tiger


kidnappings were a serious problem. That's no longer a cash cow. That's


no longer feasible. Are people in the Gardai here are more effective.


So, the path of least resistance has been drug money. They know that


the drug dealers and the drug kingpins in this city are making


vast, vast, vast amounts of money. The know that he could take get a


percentage of it, it'll be enough to finance the organisation, to


supply them that guns, ammunition and logistics. So a duty sources


also claimed that the Real IRA are taxing drug-dealers. Publicly


opposed to drugs, but privately raising funds by pocketing drugs


profits. I am not going to travel into areas and intelligence. But


certainly an number of the subversive organisations that


travel under particular banners, there was no doubt that on


occasions they make a pretence of being opposed to the use of drugs


and to the drug gangs, while simultaneously trying to raise


funding derived from the illegal sale of drugs. The thing that


dissident world, you have people who may be involved in a struggle,


as they describe it. It is about Brits out and uniting Ireland. But


you have other people in that will to are involved in crime and their


participation in those organisations is a cover for what


they really up to. So, they may target drug dealers, shoot them,


but within a world there are people who are drug dealers and to also


involved in drugs crime. This against denied this, but whatever


the reason for the drugs battle, it is getting more intense. And Dublin


is braced for the reprisals that the Real IRA have promised in


response Alan Ryan's killing. this could drag on for years. Kind


of what has happened now, I think the Real IRA are certainly going to


have to retaliate to show that they have the strength to take them on


and whether that means taking on the people who did it, which am


sure they will, but there will probably go after regular drug


dealers and say any drug dealers are a Jew -- are a legitimate


target night because they have taken on the Real IRA and if anyone


operating in North Dublin in drugs I would be worried. The question is,


can the Real IRA gain more support by confronting the dealers, or have


they got right into drugs were they can win? I believe the Real IRA had


it not more than they can chew. They have totally underestimated


the will and the actual firepower and the strength of the double that


-- of the Dublin organised crime has now reached in the city. These


organised gangs are absolutely armed to the teeth and they are


ferocious in their reprisals. can should want to a dealer and you


get 10 others pop up. It makes no impact whatsoever. Do what it does


course is that the associate to the person that you have just murdered


will suddenly start targeting you. History has shown in the past 10


years out of the border then went criminal gangs were feuding with


anyone, it actually doesn't stop. These things escalate a double


control. I am not sure that the dissident paramilitaries, for all


their bluster, want to get into that sort of long running feud with


criminal groups in Dublin, because they are as well on this them.


even so, the dissident republican war on drugs now seems to be


spreading. When gunmen shot Danny McKie last Thursday night on the


outskirts of North Belfast, dissident republicans were linked


to the murder. Danny McKay was a low-level drug dealer, and if you


have but low-level figure being taken out in what has been


described as a high-level assassination. The people but the


police are looking at as possibly being involved and that shooting,


spanned both criminal and the dissident world. And that is the


coup -- that is that confusion, that criss-crossing of lines, and


that collusion in that world in which these people move.


dissident groups are populated by both militant republicans and


organised criminals. Bill which should be strands is more likely to


take control of the future direction of an organisation like


the Real IRA? It is impossible to forecast what is likely to happen.


I think this combined dissident IRA organisation could go one of two


ways. It could try and replicate a Provisional IRA tight organisation,


which is what they want. There is as much or unequal the chance that


you going to see that grouping and the other groups mutating into a


kind of large-scale criminal operation. I think there were


people of both types within that organisation now and it is very


difficult to see who will come to the fore. You struggle to find the


armed struggle in what they're doing. You struggle to find their


confrontation with the British state. Yes, they have targeted


police officers and, yes, but is a real threat. But those looking at


them can see the crossroads. There are people who are there for what


they were term as it calls and there are people there for self-


interest. The question that people ask about all of these things is


when a lookalike? When does that friction become an internal feud


between does to her about fighting a war and those who are interested


in crime? The sudden tragic reality is that there must be some


possibility that some individual in the future of will lose their lives


in similar events. I would hope that is not the case. There was


little point in appealing to these people to desist from this type of


conduct because, from bitter experience on the silent, we know


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