Two Chinese men died and several others were badly injured (including one blinded for life) after a bloody battle broke out between rival groups outside the New Universal Chinese Restaurant on Middle Abbey Street in the summer of 1979.
A .22 long rifle, butchers cleavers, kitchen knives and iron bars were used in the fight which left blood spattered across the road and traffic cordoned off for a number of hours.
Witnesses said the fight on July 17 1979 started:
when a group of about seven well-dressed young Chinese arrived in two cars and went into the New Universal Chinese Restaurant, near the corner of Liffey Street. Within minutes, eye witnessed said, there was a commotion inside inside and young Chinese were seen rushing out of the street.
The violence was the climax of a building conflict when a Triad protection gang from Cork, Belfast and England tried to muscle its way on a Dublin Chinese restaurant chain.
Cinema goers at the Curzon and the Adelphi had to run for cover when the fighting broke out. Ms Pat Keating, manageress of the Curzeon, said the scene on the street was ‘much worse than any Kung Fu film we ever showed here’.
One of the the key personalities in the affair, Tony Lee from Cork, allegedly a ‘big boss in the 14K’ triad had his throat slashed and died shortly afterwards. His wife, Louise Lee, who was a secretary-director of a limited company set up by her husband in the early 1960s in Cork vigorously denied that he had anything to do with the Triads.
Michael Tsin (26) from Dublin was shot dead in the brawl. Tsoi Foh Sing of Cork was charged with Tsim’s murder but was later acquitted.
It was revealed at the trial at the Central Criminal Court in November 1981 that trouble had been brewing between the two groups for at least three months before the fight. One group had demanded protection money from the other group who ran the Bamboo House restaurant on Dorset Street. There had also been a fight recently between members of the two groups outside the National Stadium after a martial arts exhibition.
In August 1983, twelve members of the 14K triad were arrested in Limerick in connection with the attempted extorting of protection money from the owners of Chinese restaurant in the city. Nine of the men were believed to have come over from Britain. During the operation a hoard of weapons including knifes, pickaxes, bars and clubs were found.
It was believed that the attempt to extract money had reached a critical point and the arrests may have ‘just managed to forestall a fight which could have been as bloody as that in Dublin’ in 1979. Contemporary newspaper reports suggested that the triad gangs – 14K, Sing Woo and Shui Fong all operated in the different parts of the country.