Sunday 25 June 2017

Former Real IRA chief 'The Beast' 'gunned down by associates' in city attack

Aidan O’Driscoll (37) was shot dead in an ambush in Blackpool, Co Cork yesterday
Aidan O’Driscoll (37) was shot dead in an ambush in Blackpool, Co Cork yesterday
Aidan O'Driscoll pictured at a protest against the visit of Queen Elizabeth in 2012. Picture: Collins Photos
Cathal McMahon

Cathal McMahon

Former Real IRA chief Aidan O'Driscoll was gunned down by former associates in a localised dispute, gardai and well-placed dissident sources now believe.

The 37-year-old, who was nicknamed 'The Beast', was ambushed by two men in balaclavas as he was walking along the Old Commons Road in Blackpool on the northside of Cork city at around 5pm on Wednesday.

He was shot in the back before the gunman pumped two further bullets into him as he lay dying.

Locals came to his aid and he was rushed by ambulance to Cork University Hospital (CUH) where he underwent emergency surgery. But he died a short time later.

Gardaí have begun examining a number of lines of enquiry and tonight senior security sources and underworld contacts have revealed that O'Driscoll was targeted as part of a local dispute with republicans who he previously associated with.

One source familiar with the case said: “O'Driscoll had fallen out with a long line of people but at the moment it would appear that this is a localised dispute.

“Gardaí had examined his connection to Limerick based dissidents but this is very, very unlikely. “Likewise they have not ruled out a revenge attack by local drugs gangs but again there is no evidence for this.”

O'Driscoll was the former Officer Commanding of the Real IRA in Dublin but was kicked out of the group after a row with Alan Ryan, who was himself murdered in September 2012.

He returned to Cork after the dispute and was shot in the legs as part of a punishment style attack in June 2013. In a statement the group said he was shot for "un-republican activities".

Despite this he sought out other allies in the shady dissident world and soon hooked up with a suspected murderer, who is originally from Northern Ireland, in Limerick City in spring 2015.

The pair worked for a Limerick businessman as painters and decorators but sources say they were heavily involved in criminality and extortion.

“How either of these men came to be in Limerick at this time is a mystery but they certainly weren't welcome guests," one Limerick source said.

“O'Driscoll would travel up and down from Cork and often he would stay with friends in Limerick. He would also stay in hotels. He was a menacing presence in the city."

During one particularly violent incident a man was lured to a house in the city and his feet were nailed to the floor in a bid to extort €15,000.

O'Driscoll was arrested and questioned over this attack but was never charged. A number of people are currently before the Special Criminal Court in relation to this alleged assault.

Sources said 'The Beast' wasn't seen around Limerick after that and is thought to have attempted to re-forge links with former Cork associates.

Detectives will closely examine these relationships as part of their investigation.

O'Driscoll had two children with a previous partner and was due to get married in the new year.

Earlier on Thursday gardaí appealed for help with their investigation into O'Driscoll's murder.

Superintendent Michael Comyns said at a press conference: "We have to keep an open mind. Again as I say it is really early in the investigation. We have no idea why this shooting took place yesterday evening. Mr O'Driscoll is a son, a father and we will be using all our resources to solve this."

Supt Comyns said: "Anybody who was in this area (Blackpool) yesterday evening from 4pm onwards -- this is a very busy area at this time of the evening and we are looking for anybody if they could contact us. The number we are giving is the Anglesea Street number. It is 021 4522 000."

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