Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has condemned the latest gangland-style murder and warned criminals that violence will be their downfall.
Noel Duggan, nicknamed “Kingsize” for his prolific cigarette smuggling, was shot dead in his Mercedes in the driveway of his home in Ratoath, Co Meath, on Wednesday.
The 55-year-old was an associate of suspected armed robber Gerry Hutch, whose family and connections have been embroiled in a bloody feud with the Spain-based Kinahan gang.
In a Holy Thursday sermon at St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral in Dublin, Archbishop Martin said: “We live in a world which is often harsh and violent.
“We have witnessed horrific, hate-filled violence and retaliation on our streets again last night; when will these people learn that violence and revenge only lead to further violence and revenge?
“They feel that violence is their strength; yet violence will be their downfall. Will they ever learn?”
Duggan was murdered outside his home in The Old Mill estate in Ratoath at about 7.45pm on Wednesday evening.
His body remained at the scene overnight with Garda forensic experts carrying out technical examinations and a post mortem taking place in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda.
Two burnt out cars, one a BMW, were found several hundred yards away from the shooting on the edge of Ratoath.
Duggan had been heavily involved in smuggling vast quantities of cigarettes for the black market and had made a multimillion-euro settlement with the Criminal Assets Bureau as well as having property seized.
He also had a conviction for handling stolen goods.
His long association with Hutch, nicknamed “The Monk”, immediately led to speculation that the shooting was linked to the bloody underworld feud which has already claimed several lives.
The dispute escalated early last month when David Byrne, an associate of the Costa del Sol-based Kinahan family, was murdered in a Dublin hotel during a boxing weigh-in.
The killing was linked to the deepening feud between his criminal outfit and other Dublin-based underworld figures, and was retaliation for the murder of 34-year-old Gary Hutch, The Monk’s nephew, at the Angel de Miraflores apartment complex near Marbella in September last year.
Byrne’s murder was subsequently avenged within days when Eddie Hutch, taxi driver and brother of Gerry Hutch, was shot dead in his home in Dublin’s north inner city.
It sparked a rapid security reaction with armed patrols springing up in some disadvantaged areas of the inner city.
In the following weeks there were high-profile raids on homes of the Byrne family and their associates, solicitors and accountants and businesses linked to them.
Archbishop Martin spoke out following the Byrne and Eddie Hutch murders when he appealed to mothers and grandmothers of the criminals to help end the feud.
The Garda press office issued an appeal for witnesses to the latest murder.
Detectives urged anyone who was in and around The Old Mill housing estate or the Fairyhouse Road in Ratoath on Wednesday evening to come forward.
They also appealed for anyone who may have seen anything unusual or suspicious to contact them.
It is more than 10 years since the last gangland-style gun attack in Ratoath, a commuter town less than an hour from Dublin.
In 2003 a man was shot as he arrived home in the Fox Lodge area of the town with his wife.
Gardai said a man wearing dark clothing was seen running away around the time of the shooting onto the Fairyhouse Road.
A BMW car, believed to be the vehicle found burnt out, was also seen driving onto the same road and heading in the direction of the racecourse.
Detectives also appealed for information about a person who was seen getting into a dark-coloured saloon car and heading back into the town shortly after a car was set on fire in the Glascairn area.
Thomas Byrne, Fianna Fail TD for Meath East, said the most alarming aspect of the shooting was that it was carried out in an estate where families with children live.
“The shameless nature of this incident further emphasises the blatant disregard that the perpetrators have for human life,” he said.
“I am extremely worried that there appears to be a link to this latest shooting and a number of gangland-related killings over the past month.”