THE gangland murder of Michael Devoy is believed to have been a revenge attack for a near fatal shooting outside a Dublin pub late last year.
The shooting occurred outside Hanlon's pub in the north of Dublin city.
The target of the shooting was a drug dealer who sustained a number of injuries in the assassination bid but survived.
Three innocent women who happened to be standing in the area were also injured in the incident.
Michael Devoy (42), originally from Balbutcher Lane, Ballymun, was wearing a bulletproof vest when he was shot in the head on Saturday night.
Less than a week before his murder, an explosive device was placed under his car.
The eighth murder investigation of the year was under way today following Devoy's murder.
He was released from prison just over 24 hours before being shot on Saturday night.
His murder means that eight people have suffered violent deaths in the first 18 days of the year. At the same stage in 2013 there were no murders.
Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore yesterday expressed his shock at the spike in killings, describing it as "horrific" and criticising such "savagery". "These killings have no place in our country. We have to support the gardai in trying to identify those responsible and bring them to justice. As a society we have to work harder to eliminate violence," Mr Gilmore told the Irish Independent.
Devoy, from Balbutcher Lane in Poppintree, Ballymun, north Dublin, was a notorious criminal who had more than 60 convictions.
His body was discovered on a secluded roadway in south Co Dublin by gardai while on patrol late on Saturday.
It is believed that his killers were trying to dispose of his remains over a 30ft wall when they were disturbed by gardai on routine patrol in the area.
Officers noticed two men standing at the rear of a silver hatchback car on the isolated Foxhill Road, near the Bohernabreena Road in Tallaght.
The two men fled the scene when approached and a car chase ensued -- but the suspects were able to make their escape over the narrow and winding country roads.
Gardai then returned to the scene expecting to find dumped drugs but were shocked to find Devoy's body. He had sustained gunshot wounds from a handgun to the head and neck as well as other injuries.
Gardai attempted resuscitation but he was pronounced dead at the scene shortly after the discovery.
Devoy -- who was released on the orders of a court -- knew that his life was under threat and was wearing a bullet-proof vest at the time of his killing.
A sophisticated explosive device was placed under his car only last week in another sinister attack. Sources said he had been linked to the failed assassination attempt on drug dealer Greg Lynch outside Hanlon's Pub in Dublin last October, though it is unclear if he actually fired any shots in the attack.
Lynch miraculously survived that attempt on his life despite suffering serious injuries after one of the bullets lodged in his head. In 2006, Devoy was jailed for four years for threatening to gouge out a neighbour's eyeballs and slash his face after a row over their bins.
The first killing of the year came on January 1. Dale Creighton (20) died after an assault in Tallaght. Eight people have been charged in connection with the incident.
Hours later, Wayne McQuillian (30) was found stabbed in the neck outside his home in Drogheda. Gardai rushed him to hospital but he didn't survive.
On January 6, Thomas Horan (63) was found dead at his sheltered accommodation in Ringsend, Dublin. Kenneth Cummins (26) and his sister Sabrina Cummins (36) were charged with murder.
A day later, father-of-six Christy Daly (47) was found dead in an Offaly drain.
Michael O'Dwyer (25) was fatally stabbed at a house in Waterford on January 7. A 32-year-old man, Tadhg Butler, has been charged with his murder.
The next murder was at an apartment in Finglas on January 11. A series of people have been quizzed by gardai Vincent Maher's death, including a 23-year-old woman.
And journalist Tom O'Gorman was killed at his home in Castleknock on January 12. His Italian lodger, Saverio Bellante (34), was charged with murder.
Sam Griffin and Tom Brady