SHORTLY after the shots rang out just after 10pm on Friday night, ending the life of the country's most notorious gangland criminal, hundreds of people gathered outside the north Dublin pub where he was murdered. 'The Don' was dead, and the public post mortem about who could have ordered his murder began in earnest.
Gardaí from five different stations as well as locals from Cabra and Finglas descended upon the scene of his murder, Fassaugh House in Cabra. Some of the gathering crowd were elated by the news of the criminal's murder; others were openly mourning his death.
Thirty-four-year-old Eamon Dunne's murder was no surprise. Senior gardaí had repeatedly warned Dunne about threats to his life. The criminal was cautious about his own personal safety; he often wore a bulletproof vest and had minders whose sole job was to protect him. But a bulletproof vest and bodyguards couldn't protect him from getting shot in the head and face eight times at close range in a pub on a busy Friday night.
Dunne was the country's most ruthless and dangerous criminal. He was a man with no redeeming characteristics whatsoever. He seriously assaulted his girlfriend several years ago but she later withdrew her complaint because she was so afraid of him. He also murdered one of his closest associates over unfounded fears he was plotting against him. Dunne was hated by the vast majority of the criminal underworld. He was trigger-happy, unpredictable and paranoid. He brought unwanted garda attention to criminals all over the country by the sheer volume of murders he arranged. He had ordered 17 killings since 2005.
The Finglas native was public enemy number one for gardaí. He was a major focus of the new anti-gangland legislation. Detectives were pursuing him for directing a criminal organisation, which carries a maximum life sentence. His death will not prevent gardaí from pursuing the rest of his Finglas-based gang under the new legislation.
Dunne was a serious criminal for much of his adult life but came to prominence when he helped arrange the murder of his boss, drug trafficker Martin 'Marlo' Hyland, in December 2006. He arranged his killing in order to take over the sale and supply of heroin and cocaine in the north Dublin area. Hyland was murdered after suspicions emerged that he was a garda informant because detectives had seized millions of euro worth of drugs from the gang. Most of the other people Dunne ordered murdered were killed within a two-year period, four of them within four months.
Dunne's killing spree over the past two years was his attempt to use violence to assert his authority, but ultimately showed his lack of control.
In the last 18 months of his life, he no longer trusted any member of his own gang. It was only a matter of time before he was assassinated. Gardaí knew it and Eamon Dunne knew it.
When he ordered the murder of his closest lieutenant Graham McNally last January because of his intense paranoia, the writing was on the wall about his own fate. He had McNally killed when he learned that gardaí stopped a man with a gun close to the scene of a planned meeting that McNally had brokered with one of Dunne's enemies. He then ordered that McNally, a close friend as well as criminal ally, be shot in the head near Ashbourne, Co Meath, to ensure that he couldn't change sides.
Dunne had been in control of Hyland's criminal empire for less than four years before his own demise. He showed similar characteristics to his heroin trafficker boss – extreme mistrust of criminal associates matched with an ambition to be the country's richest and most feared criminal. Within those four years he ordered the murder of several up-and-coming drug dealers he considered were becoming too successful.
Dunne showed great skill in avoiding serious criminal convictions. He had only a couple of District Court convictions against his name. A large number of cases against him have been struck out.
But had a gunman not caught up with Dunne on Friday night, the law most likely would have. He was out on bail awaiting trial on a charge of conspiring to rob €1m from a cash and transit van outside a Tesco supermarket in Celbridge, Co Kildare, in November 2007.
Although he had many enemies, Dunne was keenly aware that he also needed allies within the criminal underworld. He was close to the gang led by jailed rapist Christy Griffin in Dublin's north-inner city, and had also forged alliances with 'Fat' Freddie Thompson's gang in Crumlin and was close to the Dundon-McCarthy mob in Limerick.
He was also a highly intelligent criminal. Well aware of his legal rights, every time he was stopped by gardaí he recorded the conversations on a dictaphone he always carried with him and took photos on a digital camera. He always took the gardaí's identification numbers and threatened to report them to the garda ombudsman for harassment.
He became the butt of jokes among some of his associates when gardaí discovered Viagra in his BMW during searches on several occasions. He also reported several journalists to the garda ombudsman, accusing them of colluding with senior gardaí to have him murdered. After court appearances, he followed photographers and journalists and took note of their cars' registration plates in order to intimidate them. He was also astute enough to try and bribe gardaí to find out intelligence about his enemies. Internal garda enquiries are under way to establish how successful he was at corrupting gardaí.
Detectives regarded Dunne as a violent sociopath who was capable of anything. He was considered more dangerous even than the McCarthy-Dundons in Limerick, who at least live their lives to a certain criminal code. Not so with Dunne.
He first raised eyebrows among gardaí when he was stopped at a checkpoint and a man was found bound and gagged in the boot of his car. Charges against him were later dropped because this man was too terrified to give evidence against him. As well as assaulting his girlfriend, he had a history of violence against other women and had no qualms about arranging the murder of Latvian mother-of-two Baiba Saulite.
This weekend, gangland criminals are quietly celebrating the death of Ireland's most notorious crime boss. Although many of them had working relationships with him, no-one trusted Eamon Dunne because of how quickly he could turn on his associates. Detectives have not ruled out that a member of Dunne's own gang could have organised the killing.
Senior gardaí who came into contact with Dunne are also breathing a collective sigh of relief. "Quite simply, he was the worst we've ever seen in terms of body counts and propensity for violence and mayhem," said a source. "Plain and simple, he had it coming."
For people to rejoice in someone's death seems callous. But the suffering Eamon Dunne inflicted in his short life justifies the celebrations of his victims' families. It's likely the only people who will truly mourn the death of Eamon Dunne will be members of his own family.
body count Eamon Dunne's bloody trail of terror
1) Andrew Dillon (29), from Berryfield Road in Finglas, Dublin, died from multiple gunshot wounds to the head in August 2005. His murder was the first Dunne is believed to have ordered. The small-time criminal fell foul of the rising crime boss over a drugs debt.
2) Drug trafficker Martin 'Marlo' Hyland was murdered in December 2006 by Dunne and two of his criminal associates. Hyland was Dunne's boss. He arranged his killing in order to take over the sale and supply of heroin and cocaine in the north Dublin area.
3) Innocent apprentice plumber Anthony Campbell was murdered alongside Hyland as he was fixing a radiator in the house where Hyland was hiding out in Finglas.
4) Latvian mother-of-two Baiba Saulite (28) was gunned down outside her home in November 2006. Dunne arranged for her to be murdered on behalf of her estranged husband, Hassan Hassan.
5) John Daly (27), the criminal who became infamous after phoning Liveline from his prison cell, was shot dead in October 2007.
6) Career criminal Paul 'Farmer' Martin (30) was shot in the head and stomach at the Jolly Toper pub in Church Street, Dublin, in August 2008.
7) Graham McNally (34), from Finglas, formerly a close associate, was shot dead in January 2009.
8 & 9) Michael 'Roly' Cronin (35) and James Maloney (26), were shot dead in a car in Summerhill, Dublin, also in January 2009.
10) The gunman Dunne arranged to carry out the double murder fled to Spain in the aftermath of the killings. Christy Gilroy, in his early 30s and from Sean O'Casey Avenue, Dublin, left vital evidence behind at the scene. Dunne later tracked him down to Spain and he is missing, presumed murdered.
11) Michael Murray (41) was shot in the head at Kippure Park, Finglas, in March 2009.
12) Paul Smyth (34), from Finglas, was killed and dumped near Balbriggan, Dublin, in June 2009.
13) David Thomas (43) was shot dead outside the Drake Inn pub in Finglas in October 2009.
14) John Paul Joyce (30), the drug-trafficking Traveller, was murdered and his body dumped at the back of Dublin Airport in January 2010. He was involved in a long-running feud with Dunne and his Finglas gang.
15,16 & 17) Eamon Dunne arranged to have three other men murdered but people are currently before the courts so the cases cannot be revealed for legal reasons.