I’m barely in the office in the morning when I get a call.
“It’s Ray. Ray Cunningham.”
I take the call out into the hall. “What do you want Ray?”
“An end to all this.”
“Whatever the “this” is you’re talking about I can guarantee it’s of your making.”
“Byrne I’m getting it from both ends. The Dents and the Northies, I’m up shit creak.”
“If you want sympathy I can give you the number of the Samaritans.”
“I don’t want bleedin sympathy, I want out. If I give you information can you get me away from this?”
“Depends on the information and where am I supposed to get you?”
“I don’t know, abroad. Can you get me out the country.”
“Ray, you may be suffering from delusions of grandeur. We wouldn’t have the resources to offer that kind of assistance to P O’Neil if he turned informant, let alone a petty car thief like you.”
“You’ve got to give me something. I’m desperate.”
“What information do you have?”
“Bits, the other guy in the job on you for one and maybe some other stuff.”
"You're on bail. You'll have to com in here."
He hung up. It reminded me that things still weren’t all clear with the Enfield shooting. It hadn’t escaped the attention of our press office as there were several emails asking me for information. Local Sinn Fein Councillors had been on to them asking for updates and wanting to know why just because the victim might have been a member of a republican paramilitary group we weren’t making it a priority and had fallen off our radar. I call the press office and explain that I’m on the Aisling Keane case, they remind me I was never on that case.
What choice do I have?
I’m conscious of how certain events may be giving the impression that I’m looking out for Dent’s sons, but I swear that this is merely a coincidence and a conspiracy of plain bad luck. Though I make a mental note to start hiding any traces of suspicion as soon as I can. The phone again.
“As you wish Byrne, I’ll come to you.”
“Ray, good man. I’ll see you here.”
He’s here in only ten minutes, we find a quiet room and sit down.
“No taping this time.”
“I need to know what you can do for me.”
“I told you earlier Ray, nothing.”
“Don’t give me that, you can do something, smooth an exit out the country for me.”
“Yeah maybe, we could get some co-operation out The Home Office in the UK, but they’ll want to see something big Ray, something really big."
“Not a problem, just get me the guarantee.”
“No can do. Honestly Ray, give me something, a name at least. I’ll get the name of a contact over there and run it by them, they’ll tell me if you’re worth investing in.”
“Will you keep me in here?”
“No room Ray.”
“Ah come on, I’ve done everything to fit in with you, you’ve got to give me something.”
“Ray the only way I can get anything for you is to involve SDU. I’m thinking you don’t want to go that far just yet.”
“Some of those bastards are dirty, I’ll be dead before you make the call to the Brits.”
“So give me a name and I’ll go direct.”
I got the name, one most people on this island would have heard of. Cathal Kenny. I think Ray’s either just bought himself a ticket to Britain, or he’s just signed his own death warrant.
Cathal Kenny. Where to start? Well first he was part of the original seventies paramilitary movement, but then he soon broke away with other dissidents. However, even they weren’t extreme enough for him and he broke away again. It’s rumoured that the only thing that saved him from being offed by his own and certainly by the security services was that he promised to hang up his arms and become a fund raiser. And boy did he raise funds. He effectively controlled the Western Counties of Ulster, even kids pinching a Mars bar from the shop had to go through him and the money came flowing in. This soon stretched out to having his arm in Donegal and then down through Leitrim, Cavan, Monaghan and Louth. He was suspected of being behind the movement to get into Dublin, but this was never proven. We now possibly have someone willing to state on record categorically his actions to date. I don’t expect Cunningham to last much beyond Spring.
I make a call to SDU, I ask specifically for John McDermot, I’ve worked along side him on a couple of occasions in the past and he seemed trust worthy enough.
“Byrne! Holy shit, to what do I owe the honour.”
“John, what’s the craic? Listen can you come over to me? I’ve something here you might be interested in.”
“Yeah? No clues?”
“Not this time, I’d appreciate you keeping this to yourself for the time being.”
Ten minutes later and McDermot is sat with Ray and myself in the room. I’ve filled him in on all that’s been said.
“So, Cunningham, you’re really prepared to give up Kenny?” John confirmed.
“Are you sure? You know that as of now there’s no turning back. Just by the fact that you’ve talked to Jim and me means that you’re a dead man if you ever get out.”
“I’m aware of that. But I was a dead man anyway.”
“Listen, Ray, this isn’t as simple as going on the witness stand. It could take a couple of days to convince the Brits to take this serious and then a couple more days to make some arrangements. It’s likely that we won’t be talking some nice flat in London either, you’ll probably be shifted to the first opening in the nearest Irish Community somewhere. Best case scenario if they agree the stuff you can give is worthy enough, you’ve a week of hanging around.”
“I’ll have some protection though?”
“Only when I get the definite go ahead. It’ll be best for you if we keep you in one of our cells. Problem is though that brings you out into the open. Word will soon get out.”
“Is there nowhere else?”
“What do you want? Suite in the Four Seasons? Sorry Cunningham it’s a single person en-suite in Pearse Street.”
“We can keep him safe though?” I ask.
“We all know the situation, there’ll be some with sympathies outside what we’re doing. If we stand around there with some armed guards, we’re drawing too much attention to him. They’ll start checking all flights and ports and monitor everyone leaving the country better than we ever could. It’s best to keep him low key and not tell anyone.”
“Let’s face it no matter what we do, it’ll be out on street in an hour.”
“Then we’ll have to move quick won’t we?” Retorts John and he goes off to make some calls.
“Thanks.” Says Ray.
“Ray, you stupid twat. This isn’t about you. You got yourself into this mess and now you’re trying to buy yourself out, it’s Kenny they’re interested in, not protecting you.”
Ray’s taken off in an unmarked car and is booked in at Pearse Street. They have him in for threatening and conspiracy in the assault on me. Again. This time though he’s pleading guilty. We’re hoping that if it looks like he’s taking the rap for them to keep silent, there won’t be any repercussions.
Word comes back from Special Branch up North, they’re very interested.
All this and I’ve still two murders on the books.
Small threads. Sometimes they do lead to bigger things, but only sometimes. Still I head off to speak to Sarah’s friend Eileen to get information on Sarah’s ex. Let’s face it all we have is that both girls had ex-boyfriends. They both lived locally and there’s a chance they went to the same bars. A small chance that there’s some link here.
Understandably Eileen’s distraught, but she’s also extremely pissed off with us. “You let her get killed!” She screams. “You knew she was in danger and you did nothing.”
“We did all we could, I’m really sorry.” Even I’m not convinced though.
“That’s no consolation. You’re sorry? Sorry for how long? Until the next one is murdered or until you put in for your overtime?”
“Please, miss, we’re did all we could at the time. We just didn’t plan on Sarah dismissing the security we provided.”
“Did you plan for anything?”
“We did all we could given the circumstances. Eileen, can you tell me more about her boyfriend?”
“Why, what’s he got to do this with this?”
“Nothing that we know, but we’ll need to speak to him as a matter of course.”
“What do you want to know?”
“Why did they split up?”
“He was a prick that’s why. He’d only call her when he could be bothered and even then it was to tell her he was out with the lads. She caught him plenty of times shagging other women and they’d split up, but after a couple of weeks he’d always manage to worm his way back in.”
“Was it any different this time?”
“No, seemed the same as ever. Except she really did seem serious this time about ending it.”
“How was that?”
“She kicked him in the balls and beat the crap out of him when she found out he’d done it again.”
“Sounds final enough. How did he react to that?”
“His usual way, making sure when she was out, he was in the same place. Chatting up other women when she could see him. Then coming over to her when he failed to score telling her he’d made a big mistake and she was the love of his life, The usual.”
“But he never seemed to take Sarah’s erm, retribution to heart?”
“He probably saw it as battle scars, or told the lads he was mugged or something.”
“What’s his name?”
“I’m not sure. I was never that interested in him. Devine or something.”
“Eileen. Could it be Delaney?”
“I think so, sounds right.”
“Where does he live?”
“Maynooth. I think.”
“Eileen, Is he a lecturer at the college?”
“Yes he’s a professor.”
How about that, Professor Stephen Delaney.