An Armagh man suspected of being involved in the murder of Garda (policeman) Adrian Donohoe is to be deported from the United States.
The man was reportedly arrested yesterday due to a visa irregularity and thought to be in his mid-20s, from the south of Co. Armagh, and not likely to be charged as soon as he returns to Ireland as gardaí are still building a case. Instead, he will be charged with a number of minor offenses.
The suspect was known locally to be living in the US for some time, working in construction and even took a skiing holiday on the anniversary of Garda Donohoe’s death.
His brother, another suspect, has also been living on the US east coast and for most of his time in America, his fiancee has been living there with him. She fled Ireland to be with him not long after the murder but was detained after a road accident and deported in January.
In January 2013, Garda Donohoe and a colleague were asked to work as escorts for bank staff transferring cash from one branch to another in Bellurgan, Co Louth. With the small country town enveloped in darkness, the father of two approached a car of two men and was shot at short range into the back of the head.
The pair, along with three other men, fled with $4,500 - far less than the $45,000 in cash the bank officials were transferring.
It was the first time a member of the gardaí had been shot on duty since 1996 and he was afforded a full state funeral.
Gardaí say there are people out there who have information on the murder of Detective Garda Adrian Donohue killed four years ago today. pic.twitter.com/cszyfrkuaQ— Sinéad Hussey (@SineadHus) January 25, 2017
The suspected gang’s links to criminals in the Irish republican movement were revealed in the Sunday Independent. One suspect, who is thought to have been in the car when Donohoe was shot, is said to be involved in fuel smuggling across the Irish border - the sale of which is a huge source of income for dissident republicans.
The suspect is not a member of the IRA himself but one of his relatives was described by local gardaí to the Sunday Independent as “number two Provo” in the south Armagh area and an important figure in the organization’s fuel smuggling.
One of the reasons the men remain at large to this day is thought to be their connections to the republican movement; witnesses are simply too scared to come forward out fear of IRA reprisals.
The stolen car used during the robbery was burned out and there were no traces of DNA left at the crime scene that could be used to link anyone to the murder.
Within the gardaí, the sense of frustration at their inability to bring the killers of their colleague to justice is palpable and has been described as something of a “personal mission” for many officers.
But the prospects of convictions remain as yet unlikely - a suspect is even said to have laughed in gardaí’s faces, knowing full well he will probably be free for years to come.
Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan appealed for anyone with information to come forward on the fourth anniversary of his death this year.
“The investigation team in Dundalk has done incredible work and An Garda Síochána will continue its efforts in this vein until justice is done,” she said. “We cannot do this alone, we still need the public’s help. Even the smallest piece of information could be vital. At this time, I would appeal to anyone with information on Adrian’s murder to come forward and help us with our inquiries. “There are still people out there who know who the killers are. It is never too late to do the right thing. Any information provided will be treated sensitively.”