‘Dublin Jimmy’s threats’ to ex-Fine Gael mayor Frank Kilbride who admitted laundering €2.6m in cash

Former two-time mayor of Co Longford Frank Kilbride (69), of Aughakilmore, Ballinalee in the county, pleaded guilty to three counts of money laundering at a sitting of Longford District Court this week.

The former hotelier, who was a Fine Gael councillor from 1999 to 2014, is a well-known figure in the world of country music and has appeared on national TV. He is also a former presenter on a local radio station.

He was celebrated at a tribute night in Longford in August which was attended by a host of stars from the world of music and sport, who had no idea of his involvement in money laundering.

Kilbride is now awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to laundering the money on various dates between September 2017 and March 2019.

The Sunday World has revealed that the now-deceased gangster Cyril McGuinness, also known as ‘Dublin Jimmy’, was suspected of being involved in the scheme.

McGuinness, who was centrally involved in attacks on Quinn Industrial Holdings and is believed to have orchestrated the kidnapping and torture of its chief operations officer Kevin Lunney, is claimed to have called to Kilbride’s home and threatened him in relation to the money laundering operation.

A source close to Kilbride claimed the former politician got caught up in the money laundering operation through another criminal from Cavan who was an associate of McGuinness.

The source said Kilbride wanted the operation to end but was then visited by Dublin Jimmy who made threats to him.

“Dublin Jimmy told him in no uncertain terms that the money laundering wasn’t going to stop,” the source said.

“He then came back to Kilbride another time and threatened him with a firearm.”

McGuinness suffered a fatal heart attack while UK Police were searching a house he was staying in the Buxton area in England on November 8, 2019.

The search was part of a multi-agency investigation into the abduction and torture of Mr Lunney.

After McGuinness’ death, Kilbride thought that would be the end of the intimidation – but associates of the gangster then started making more threats.

“He thought that was the end of it but then he had another visit after that from a gang of men.”

The source added that on another occasion associates of McGuinness are claimed to have assaulted someone known to Kilbride when they couldn’t find him.

McGuinness, who had 50 convictions and was originally from Swords in Dublin, ran a gang which operated on both sides of the Irish border who were involved in a wide range of criminal activity, including smuggling, the theft of ATMS, violent attacks and money laundering.

He also republican links.

He amassed a vast fortune from criminality by the time of his death, estimated in some circles to be up to €10m.

He was believed to have been paid more than €1m for organising the Quinn Industrial Holdings attacks.

There is no suggestion Frank Kilbride was involved in the attacks on Quinn Industrial Holdings or Kevin Lunney.

A number of McGuinness’s associates have been jailed for their involvement in the attack on Lunney but McGuinness died before he could face justice.

The so-called ‘paymaster’ behind the attack has never been brought to justice but the investigation is still ongoing.

Cyril McGuinness, aka ‘Dublin Jimmy’

Former Quinn boss Sean Quinn has publicly said he was not the paymaster.

Kilbride got into serious financial trouble during the property crash after a land development deal to build a housing estate in Longford went wrong and left him massively in debt.

Around the same time of the difficulty, he was arrested by gardaí on suspicion of drink driving.

He told officers at the scene: “Do you know who I am, you can’t do me for drink driving?,” after he crashed his car while being pursued by garda.

In another incident in March 2013, gardaí came across Kilbride after he crashed his car into a ditch in Longford and once again he was slurring his speech, was unsteady on his feet and had a smell of alcohol from his breath

He was charged with failing to give a breath sample and while the judge said there was “no doubt he clearly had a large amount to drink”, the case was struck out because he was not given the option to provide blood or urine samples.

Kilbride was also before the courts in 2013 after the Director of Corporate Enforcement took a case against him and his hotel company Ballyrye Ltd for failing to keep proper accounts.

The defendants were each charged with offences under section 202 of the Companies Act 1990, which requires the keeping of proper books of account.

The three charges against the company related to the financial periods ending August 2009, August 2010 and August 2011. The single charge against Kilbride related to the financial period ended August 2011.

On a plea of guilty by each of the accused, the Court, having thought the case proven, proceeded (under Section 1 (1) of the Probation of Offenders Act, 1907 to dismiss the charges and directed the defendants to pay prosecution costs totalling €1,250, within a period of three months from the date of the Court Order.

In 2019, Kilbride was back in court after Park House Hotel Ltd, which he ran, was convicted for what was referred to as “probably one of the highest” cases of ESB fraud to be detected in the Midlands in a decade.

The electricity meter at the hotel had been interfered with and was found to be undercharging by two-thirds to an amount totaling €37,126.70 between August 2012 and November 2015.

ESB workers told the court that when they spoke to Kilbride about it he told them he owned the hotel but said he “knew nothing about” the meter tampering.

Judge Seamus Hughes said that was not a satisfactory explanation and Kilbride would have noticed his bill was way down.

Judge Hughes said: “His performance here today has been abysmal and if he was the defendant, he’d be going to jail. Okay?”

Mr Kilbride no longer has any involvement in the hotel.

Judge Hughes imposed the maximum fine of €5,000 and ordered Park House Hotel Ltd to also pay the €1,350 in legal costs.

Kilbride appeared in court in Longford this week and pleaded guilty to three counts of money laundering totalling €2.6m.

He was remanded on continuing bail to appear before a sitting of Longford Circuit Criminal Court on January 9, 2024.

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