Gang war tit-for-tat rages in Dublin as austerity-hit Irish cops ‘lack presence’

© Joshua Lott
The brother of an Irish crime boss was shot dead in a suspected revenge attack in Dublin following a separate fatal shooting in a hotel last Friday. The shootings have drawn attention to a 75-percent cut in police budgets in austerity-stricken Ireland.

The incident happened at 7:45 pm on Poplar Row in Ballybough on the north side of the city. Gardai (police) believe it could be a revenge attack for a fatal shooting that took place in the city last Friday.

READ MORE: 1 killed as armed men dressed as cops open fire at Dublin boxing event

The victim is reported to be 56-year-old Eddie Hutch, brother of Gerry "The Monk" Hutch, a well-known Dublin gang boss, according to TheJournal.ie.

Four men were involved in the attack, but all fled the scene following the incident, national broadcaster RTE reported.

There is strong Garda presence in the area at the moment, with numerous emergency services at the scene.

The four men are said to have entered Hutch's house and opening fire with handguns. The Independent reports Hutch was shot up to nine times, and died in the hallway. 

A Volkswagen car was found near the scene with a petrol tank inside, suggesting it may have been intended to have been burnt out. 

The feud between the two criminal gangs has escalated since Gary Hutch, nephew of Gerry and Eddie Hutch was shot dead in Spain last year.

The shooting at the Regency Hotel is thought to have been in retaliation for Gary Hutch's death.

Gardai believe Eddie Hutch's death is in retaliation for the Regency attack, where David Byrne, an associate of the Kinahan crime gang was killed, RTE reports.

A general election was called days before the first murder, which took place in daylight at a boxing weigh-in. While Ireland has exited the €80 billion bailout, it remains €204 billion in debt and austerity politics was expected to dominate the campaign.

The lack of police presence at the Regency Hotel despite knowledge of a criminal presence  has drawn attention to Garda budget cuts. The Irish Times reports the Garda’s overtime budget had been cut to €34 million. This is a 75 percent cut from pre-recession budget of €138 million in 2007.

Surveillance operations, which largely take place as overtime shifts, are seen as a luxury. An Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors said officers fear spending budget on surveillance in case they run out when a major crime occurs.

Eddie Hutch was not believed to be a violent criminal, although he is suspected of helping launder money for brother Gerry, and was targeted in a large investigation by Ireland's Criminal Assets Bureau in the 1990's.