Christopher “Bronco” Dunne has just ended a fortnight on hunger strike. The man, once dubbed Ireland’s ‘godfather of crime’, says his refusal to eat was his response to the health service failing to give him the medical attention and support he needed.
Unne (85) has health problems related to a stroke he suffered last year. He has put up a poster outside the front door of his home at Merrion Road, Dublin 4, setting out his grievances and the reasons for his hunger strike.
The caretaker of the council housing complex where Dunne lives informed the HSE of his stance. Health authorities contacted him to ensure he received the care he needed, prompting him to end his hunger strike last Wednesday.
“I’m ending it now, I’m ending it today. I had some ginger nut biscuits. I have to start slowly with what I eat,” he said Sunday independent at his home in Dublin 4 last Wednesday. He appears emaciated but insists he is a physically and mentally healthy man despite his significant weight loss. “Two weeks were nothing. I was on hunger strike in Portlaoise prison for 112 days.”
“Bronco” is the eldest child of the Dunne family, a crime dynasty from the Liberties. His younger brother Larry was the most notorious member of the clan. He imported drugs and is credited with introducing heroin to Ireland. Larry died in 2020, taking his own life at his home in Dublin. He was ill and had lost the will to live.
Bronco, who was not involved in drug dealing during his own criminal career, had not spoken to his younger brother in more than a decade. Did he go to his funeral?
“Of course I didn’t do that, it was in the middle of Covid. We hadn’t spoken for a long time, but he was still my brother. Everyone knows I’m anti-drugs, that I think drug dealers should be executed. But Larry was a scapegoat.
“My whole family was made scapegoats by the gardaí. Everyone was involved with drugs in the Liberties, but my family was vilified. I will not accept this any longer.”
He says he wants “vindication” and “his reputation restored” before he dies. “I know how this ends. The newspaper headlines will be: ‘He’s dead. The gangster. The drug lord. Luxurious living in Dublin 4.’ Does that look like luxury to you?”
The apartment is small and relatively uncluttered except for the kitchen area, which is unkempt and littered with half-filled cups and glasses.
The justification Dunne seeks relates to his 1992 tiger kidnapping conviction. He was sentenced to 10 years in Portlaoise prison for the crime against a Dublin postmaster.
He insists it was a “miscarriage of justice” and wants to try to overturn it.
He claims his family members’ involvement in crimes has been “wildly exaggerated” and blames An Garda Síochána. “Of course Larry was involved in drugs. But was it as bad as they claimed? no Am I a godfather of crime? No.”
Gardaí would strongly disagree, saying the Dunne family was Ireland’s first highly organized family-based crime gang. Larry Dunne had more than 40 criminal convictions at the time of his death, including the sale and supply of heroin and cocaine.
“Larry was a gentleman. My dad used to call him “Larry the Lamb” because he was so gentle. The Gardaí made him public enemy number one,” Bronco says.
He has written a book about his life that he intends to self-publish.
“It covers everything. There shouldn’t be any legal problems. You can’t slander the dead, and most of the people in them are long dead.”
Bronco Dunne grew up in poverty in the Liberties. Some of his brothers became involved in petty crime from a young age before progressing to serious crime. Many spent time in industrial schools, which he describes as “places full of brutality.”
While Bronco was never involved in the drug trade, he saw much of this world through some of his brothers’ involvement in it.
What does he think of modern drug gangs and how they operate in comparison? “I met Christy [Kinahan] Snr in Portlaoise Prison years ago, he was studying at the time.
“The Hutches and the Kinahans are being targeted by Gardaí, as is my family. They were driven out of the country. I am against drugs. Always has been and always will be. I won’t say much about them. I could end up with a bullet in the head.”
Dunne admits he’s bitter about how his life has turned out. He blames everything on An Garda Síochána – even his recent hunger strike – and takes no personal responsibility for his past involvement in the crime.
During the two hours he gets emotional at times Sunday independent spends in his house. He lives alone and hasn’t seen any of his children for a while, causing him great pain. He is confused at times, believing that Gardaí are monitoring him even though he is no longer involved in crime.
“My family was destroyed. All of our lives were ruined. I see neither my children nor my grandchildren. I don’t want them to be associated with the Dunne name because that would only destroy them,” he says.
“I don’t see her to protect her. I just hope they know I love them.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/crime/im-a-gangster-living-in-luxury-does-this-look-like-luxury-to-you-christopher-bronco-dunne-42158095.html “I’m a gangster living in luxury? Does that look like luxury to you?’ – Christopher “Bronco” Dunne