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Sunday, 3 February 2008

Why was Martin Foley shot.

The grim reality of the attempt on Martin Foley's life began to sink in after the middle of last week when his body, weakened from three previous gun attacks, began to react severely to infection caused by the latest bullet wounds. Foley's spleen had been destroyed in one of the previous attacks. A normal healthy person can survive well enough without one, but the spleen is a necessary organ for helping the body repair itself from blood infection and Foley's is no longer there to do the job. He was "touch and go" on Thursday morning.
Senior garda sources said yesterday that while they can't be sure what will happen in terms of serious gangland crime in Ireland this year, they are certain that there are enough live disputes between gangs to ensure that there will be more killing in the coming months.
While Foley was in St James's Hospital's intensive care unit, gardai in Dublin were still trying to work out exactly what Foley had done or who exactly he had crossed to merit this latest attempt on his life. It is the absence of precise intelligence on matters such as the attempted assassination of a man who has probably the highest public profile of any criminal in Ireland that has prompted a major review of the anti-organised crime policing.
Within three days of the attempt on Foley's life, the new Garda Commissioner, Fachtna Murphy, announced that he was going to regularise and put on a permanent footing the 70-strong Organised Crime Unit (OCU), which is attached to the National Bureau of Crime Investigation at his Harcourt Square headquarters in Dublin.
The unit was set up just over two years ago as a temporary expedient after a rash of gangland murders in the city. It has had some significant successes in terms of seizures of guns and drugs, and in arrests. However, over the past six months, the dedicated and hard-working young gardai seconded to the unit found that their temporary status meant that their service was not being counted for promotion purposes. They were, effectively, doing down their promotion prospects by volunteering for dangerous policing.
After senior gardai in Dublin made a strong case for the regularising of the OCU, the new Commissioner agreed and last week officially dedicated the OCU as the permanent and, it is expected, leading unit in the fight against organised drugs crime, initially, in Dublin. It will be headed by a Detective Superintendent with considerable experience of the gang scene in Dublin.
A senior Dublin detective said the statistics, claims and counterclaims surrounding them were "irrelevant". "They don't paint a picture of the reality out there," he said.
Asked about the immediate priority of the OCU, a senior source involved in the development of the unit said: "Intelligence -- there is no point in having surveillance alone. You could spend all your life watching people. You need intelligence. We still don't know for sure why Martin Foley was shot, for instance."
He added: "There are feuds all over this city flaring up and we don't know why." He pointed out that last year, while gardai in the north inner city -- helped by dozens of armed gardai from the OCU -- had been concentrating on the blood feud surrounding ex-members of the IRA and criminal associates who had split and began killing each other after one had raped his partner's daughter, another feud erupted for unknown reasons.

Paul Kelly (26), from Gardiner Street, was shot dead outside a block of flats on the Malahide Road. It had been assumed, at first, that it was because he was from the inner city and known to people involved in the feud. However, it subsequently emerged that he was murdered over an entirely different argument and since then this has developed into a quite separate dispute.

The south inner Dublin gang leader who Martin Foley had been associating with in recent years is emerging as one of the most significant criminals in the State. Freddy Thompson is still only 27, yet has been associated with some of the biggest drugs seizures in recent times. He was arrested in Rotterdam with seven kilos of cocaine and six handguns and ammunition in October 2006 but evaded prosecution on a technicality.

Foley had once regarded "Fat" Freddie Thompson as a protégé but gardai say that Foley has, in recent years, been regarded as little more than a throwback to the old days of organised crime. It is regarded as highly possible that associates of Thompson shot Foley.

Gardai also believe that associates of Thompson were involved in the double murder of Brian Downes (40) and the innocent young mechanic, Eddie Ward (24), who were shot dead at the lock-up garage behind Downes' home in Walkinstown last October. An associate of Downes', Sean McMahon (35), was shot dead as he slept in his bed at his home in Tallaght two weeks later. It is now believed McMahon was murdered because it was merely believed he was intent on revenge for the murder of his friend. The major feud between the two south inner city Dublin drugs gangs that has resulted in over 10 deaths since 2000 has not been resolved and is showing little sign of stabilising.

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