Noel Duggan: Another 'soft target' in a volatile gangland feud

Looking for a war? Why the gangs of Dublin are still shooting.

ANOTHER VIOLENT SHOOTING, believed to be connected the Kinahan and Hutch families, serves to heighten even further the already tense feud between the gangs. 

Noel Duggan, a longtime friend of Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch, was shot multiple times last night as he sat in his car, having just pulled into the driveway of his home in the Old Mill housing estate in Ratoath, county Meath.

Duggan, known as ‘Mr Kingsize’ due to his heavy involvement in cigarette smuggling, is the second close associate of former criminal Gerry Hutch to be killed this year. The Monk’s brother, Eddie Hutch, was murdered in February when two gunmen burst into his home in Dublin’s north inner-city.

The hit on the 59-year-old taxi driver is believed to have been in retaliation for the fatal shooting of David Byrne, an associate of the Kinahan gang, at a boxing weigh-in at the Regency Hotel just days earlier.

Last month, sources and those who knew Eddie Hutch described him as an easy target for the gang. He had not been involved in the gangland scene and those who knew him spoke of a good man, who “always had a smile for everyone”.

Gardaí have maintained they had no intelligence to indicate The Monk’s brother was a target for the Kinahan gang, as his only link to criminality was by his family name.

Nothing that emerged about him in the days following his death contradicted that claim.

His funeral too differed to that of gangster David Byrne, which is reported to have cost tens of thousands of euro. That was an extravagant display, which included motorcycles, three horse-drawn carriages of floral tributes and a remote control car.

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The Hutch family asked parish priest Fr Ebejer at Eddie’s funeral to convey a message from them asking that there be no retaliation for his murder.

They now call on everybody for this cycle of violence to stop, and to stop now.

Members of the Hutch clan had also been present at Byrne’s funeral and had attempted to pass a message to the Kinahans, in the hope of arranging peace talks.

But Hutch’s killing was intended not only as an act of revenge for Byrne’s murder – it was a message that the Kinahans would not be made fools of. The shooting at the boxing weigh-in had been a well-planned affair, with two men dressed as armed gardaí and another disguised as a woman. It was taken as a message that they did not get away with killing Gary Hutch in Spain last September.

But targeting The Monk’s brother was a more personal attack on the former criminal.

Sources have said the ‘soft target’ label which was attached to Hutch after his murder irked the main players in the Kinahan gang, who wanted to be seen as showing an equally strong response to the brazen attack at the Regency.

Another hit on a Hutch associate was therefore expected and gardaí had warned a number of people in recent weeks that their lives could be in danger – including last night’s victim Noel Duggan.

They had also raided the homes of a number of Kinahan associates, seizing luxury cars, large sums of cash and expensive jewellery. Though there were searches conducted on the Hutch side, there has been a clear focus by gardaí, and CAB in particular, on the Kinahan gang and their assets.

With the main Hutch targets under protection, the Kinahans chose another easy target last night. Duggan had been heavily involved in cigarette smuggling and in the past made a significant settlement with the Criminal Assets Bureau. But over the last 10 years he had taken a step back from the criminal world and lived a quiet life with his family at their home in Ratoath.

Again, this was a personal attack as Duggan was known to be a long-time and close friend of Gerry Hutch. And again, he could be described as a ‘soft target’.

Locals in Ratoath said Duggan was a quiet and unassuming man who got on well with his neighbours.

“He never hid himself within the village, even though everyone knew from a long time back that he had a criminal associations through the cigarettes. He’d be an older style criminal, so didn’t do anything in Ratoath to bring attention to himself,” independent councillor Nick Killian said today.

The concern now is that the ruthless manner in which both Eddie Hutch and Noel Duggan were murdered will provoke a violent retaliation.

In public at least, the Hutch family – while not quite flying a white flag – has been looking for a peaceful path, one where their relatives will not be gunned down in frightening displays of strength.

We’re yet to see what form peace talks in gangland Dublin could take, or if they are even possible. Will this blood spill be too much for the Hutch clan to take that road? Would just one more murder signify a declaration of all-out war?

Worryingly, there seems to be an endless queue of young men willing to participate in such a street battle.

Read: Man in dark clothing seen running from scene of Noel Duggan shooting

More: Close friend of ‘The Monk’, Noel Duggan, shot five times in driveway ambush

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