Gardai in Dublin's highest-crime areas are bracing themselves for another round of violence following the latest murder of a young Dublin man in revenge for the murder earlier this year of a former member of the IRA.
It is believed that the latest murder, of Jason Egan, 23, at Mulhuddart, Dublin, may have been carried out by former members of the Provisional IRA in revenge for the murder of Wayne Doherty, 32, who was shot dead by a local drugs gang in Hartstown, Dublin 15, in July.
No one has been charged with the murder of Doherty who, according to security sources, was in the IRA.
The murder is the 24th in Dublin this year, making 2009 by far the worst year on record for homicides in the city. Privately, experienced detectives in Dublin are admitting the gangland violence in the city is out of control.
By last Friday evening, the total for gang-related homicides in Dublin had reached 24, with charges in only one case and a file sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions in another.
Garda sources, meanwhile, admitted yesterday that the death tally in Dublin would be much higher if it were not for an outbreak of paranoia among senior criminals over Justice Minister Dermot Ahern's new laws on "directing" organised crime, which has driven a large number of the worst criminals out of the country to Spain, Britain and Holland.
The maximum sentence for "directing" a criminal gang under the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009 is life imprisonment.
The law mirrors the Offences Against the State legislation introduced after the 1998 Omagh bombing atrocity which also carries a potential life sentence for directing a terrorist organisation. Louth man Micky McKevitt, leader of the Real IRA gang which carried out the bombing in which 28 people and near-term twins were killed, is serving a 20-year sentence for directing the terror group.
Egan was shot several times in the chest and head as he closed up his family shop at Ladyswell Road, Patrickstown, in Mulhuddart, at 8.30pm on Friday. He was taken to Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown where he was declared dead.
Egan was blamed for the murder of Wayne Doherty who was killed with a shotgun blast after an outbreak of fighting in a pub in Mulhuddart on July 5 last. Doherty, who had no drugs connections, and who had a young family was standing outside his house when two cars pulled up and a passenger fired a shotgun at him.
He died shortly afterwards. Gardai suspect Egan had sourced the shotgun but did not fire the fatal shot. He was questioned but released without charge. Another young man, suspected of firing the shot that killed Doherty, is on the run and last heard of in England.
After the murder of Doherty, according to security sources, former IRA members swore revenge against Egan, a known associate of the gang responsible for Doherty's murder. Since the disbandment of the IRA in 2007, a considerable number of ex-members in Dublin and the border area have moved into organised crime.
However, it was not suspected that Doherty was involved and had been murdered for standing up to drugs gangs in his area.
The area of north west Dublin where the latest murder took place including Cabra, Finglas, Blanchardstown and out to Mulhuddart is now the bloodiest gangland area in the country with 23 murders since the start of 2008.
Meanwhile, there was confusion yesterday over reports that gangland figure "Fat" Freddie Thompson had been shot in Spain, but these were later dispelled when it emerged that the reports had probably been manufactured by Thompson himself. He circulated a similar story at about the same time last year while he was again out of the country, in Spain.
Gardai also say they are now very concerned that yet another generation of young criminals have entered the south inner city feud intent on murdering each other. One young man, recently acquitted of serious charges, is said to be emerging as "the new Freddie", according to gardai.
Senior detectives in Dublin are in short supply with a record number opting for early retirement or moving to less onerous work.