Crime boss John Gilligan recovers in hospital in open ward for six patients
Published 03/03/2014 | 02:30
Crime boss John Gilligan is recovering in hospital in an open ward for six patients, one of the hospital’s chaplains has revealed.
Fr Dan Joe O’Mahony, duty chaplain at Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown gave Gilligan the last rites on Saturday night when he was shot and rushed to hospital.
The priest told RTE's Today with Sean O’Rourke that his ward is being guarded by uniformed and armed gardai, and there are up to six patients in his ward.
Gilligan was “a lucky man” to be alive and “there was blood everywhere” by the time the gang leader arrived at the hospital, Fr O'Mahony said.
“There was blood everywhere... with the wounds he had, he was a lucky man...a bullet grazed his head...he had blood everywhere.”
“We realised who it was...He was in great pain, and all of the nurses and doctors were working professionally on him.”
“I would say that ten people were working on him at one time.”
Fr O’Mahony said he administered the sacrament of the sick with general absolution, but he doesn’t know if Gilligan was conscious of it at the time.
“He was brought from casualty in for a CT scan, and later on he was brought to theatre that night. I saw him in the ward about 5am, he was asleep.”
“Certainly it could have gone [either] way. It was 50/50 for a while.”
“For a case like that, there’s always a uniformed garda and an armed garda.”
Two ambulances arrived, Fr O’Mahony said, containing Gilligan, gardai and paramedics.
Gilligan’s family arrived at the hospital fifteen minutes later and they were brought into the family room at the hospital.
“John was in the first ambulance with the crew and gardai from Ronanstown.”
“A quarter of an hour later [his family] arrived.”
Fr O'Mahony is due to visit the gang boss on Wednesday night.
Meanwhile, it has been revealed that a gangland boss ordered the hit on John Gilligan after receiving a demand for cash from the convicted drugs trafficker.
Gilligan has infuriated several underworld figures by attempting to "tap" them for money since his release from Portlaoise Prison last October.
Among those targeted by the 62-year-old were associates of a notorious Irish criminal, now based in Spain, who regards Gilligan as "a weak link" attracting garda attention to their bids to set up profitable drug deals.
Gardai say it is not yet clear whether the overseas criminal played any direct role in the botched assassination attempt on the man behind the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin – but it is the strongest line of inquiry.
One senior officer said: "There is a long queue of people, who would like to see Gilligan disappear.
"Since his release from jail, he has annoyed a lot of criminals, who were previously involved in illegal business deals, and are now being put under pressure by him to give him a dig out.
"He appears to have had no access to real money since he got out of jail and is under the impression that others owe him a favour because of his standing before he was sent to prison," the officer added.
Despite the gangland connections to the shooting incident, gardai believe those behind the attempted murder were "amateurish".
The gunman fired six shots and Gilligan was hit at least three times in the stomach, hip and leg.
It is understood he suffered a leg fracture. A bullet also grazed his head and he received a minor wound to his chest.
Gardai said the gun used in the attack was similar to the weapon abandoned by gunmen after a previous planned shooting of Gilligan last December.
Gilligan was last night in a stable condition at Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown following surgery.
Several family members visited the hospital yesterday but had no comment to make when approached by journalists, except: "I don't know how you sleep at night."
On Saturday, members of the Gilligan family, including his brother, Thomas, had been attending a function at the Silver Granite pub in Palmerstown following a Christening ceremony for the latter's grandchild.
John Gilligan did not attend the pub celebrations but did later call to Thomas's house at Greenfort Crescent in Clondalkin, where he has spent some of his time since he got out of jail.
Gilligan is reported to have been driven to the house by his daughter, Tracey, from his house at Jessbrook, on the Kildare-Meath border, where he had an equestrian centre that has since been seized by the Criminal Assets Bureau.
He was inside for half an hour when shortly after 7pm two masked men forced their way in through the front door.
One of the attackers was armed with a 9mm Luger handgun and opened fire. He pursued Gilligan, who was not wearing a bullet-proof vest, into the kitchen and fired again.
The two men then fled from the house and made their getaway in a silver SUV.
The priest who gave the gangster the Last Rites has revealed that up to 20 doctors attended to him as they battled to save his life at Connolly Hospital.
Fr Dan Joe O'Mahony said that there was "blood, blood, blood everywhere" in the resuscitation room.
"It would have been 50/50 whether he would survive or not. His heart was up and down and he could have gone at any moment," the priest said.
The Greenfort Crescent estate was cordoned off for most of yesterday while a garda team carried out a forensic examination of the house.
When the cordon was finally lifted after 6pm, Thomas Gilligan arrived home and stood in his front yard speaking with one of the gardai who had maintained a vigil outside.
When approached by the Irish Independent, he indicated firmly that he did not wish to make any comment.
Following a case conference at Lucan garda station yesterday, investigating officers issued an appeal for help from anybody who spotted men acting suspiciously outside the Greenfort Crescent house on Saturday or noticed the silver SUV being driven at speed.
Two unmarked garda cars were parked at the doors of the hospital and security was said to be tight at the room where Gilligan is now being treated.
Looking tired and drawn, his wife Geraldine, daughter Tracey, and son Darren were sitting in the reception area when approached for comment on his condition and on the events around the murder attempt.
"Just turn around and go. I don't know how you sleep at night," said Tracey.
One definite line of inquiry is that the shooting is linked to another incident in December when two men arrived in a Dublin pub looking for Gilligan.
On that occasion the gunmen panicked and sped away on a motorcycle after they had targeted the wrong pub.
Gilligan had been drinking that day in the Hole in the Wall pub beside the Phoenix Park but the gunmen went to the Halfway House premises, less than a kilometre away.
They were pursued by passing gardai and threw away their weapon, which was later recovered by officers.