Dissident faction now suspects in murder of former IRA chief 'Beast'
Former Real IRA chief of staff Aidan 'The Beast' O'Driscoll is believed to have been killed by gunmen known to him from a dissident Republican faction in Limerick.
O'Driscoll (37), from the Ballyvolane area of Cork, was targeted when he apparently ignored warnings issued in 2013 by his former associates about his ongoing activities.
He was the victim of a punishment shooting in Cork three years ago after he was accused of pocketing money earmarked for the Real IRA.
O'Driscoll, who earned the nickname 'Beast' from his days playing with Delaney's GAA Club in Cork, was also expelled from the Real IRA and warned about his attempts to expand an extortion network in Munster.
Despite being knee-capped, he repeatedly refused to make a formal complaint or statement about the incident to gardaí.
Shortly before 5pm on Wednesday, O'Driscoll was ambushed as he walked near an apartment complex just metres from Blackpool Church.
Detectives believe he realised he was walking into a trap and turned to flee. However, he was struck in the back by a round from a 9mm semi-automatic pistol. O'Driscoll collapsed to the ground and a gunman calmly walked up to him and shot him at least twice more in the torso as he lay wounded.
He died just over an hour later in Cork University Hospital (CUH) as doctors undertook emergency surgery in a vain bid to save him.
Superintendent Mick Comyns insisted gardaí are keeping "a very open mind" about the motives behind the killing.
"O'Driscoll was a son and a father. We are devoting every possible resource we can to solving this crime," he said.
"But it is very early in the investigation - we don't even have the results of the post mortem examination yet."
Supt Comyns appealed to people to help the inquiry.
"We are appealing to people who may have seen anything in Blackpool or the Commons Road area, or in Redemption Road or Killeens for that matter, to contact us," he said.
Supt Comyns confirmed the killers fled in a darkcoloured Nissan Almera and then, later, in an red Opel Astra estate.
A motorcycle found near the Mallow Road is also being examined. The Almera was found burned out off Redemption Road and the Astra was found gutted in Killeens.
Supt Comyns confirmed gardaí have not yet recovered the weapon used. Forensic evidence and CCTV footage will now be crucial to the investigation.
It is believed the two killers were previous associates of O'Driscoll within the dissident Republican movement and are part of an active service unit in Limerick.
However, gardaí admitted there could be a gangland link given the number of enemies O'Driscoll had within local drug gangs.