A PLAN by associates of John Gilligan to set up a drugs network prior to his release from jail was thwarted by gardai, the Sunday Independent has learned.
The gang, dealing in crack cocaine and heroin, was being led by a young man who has visited Gilligan in Portlaoise Prison. He and seven others were arrested after gardai mounted an undercover operation, "Operation Klaxon" last November.
Gardai believe Gilligan, 61, has intentions of re-entering the Dublin crime scene and the drugs gang would have provided him with protection – and cash. But gardai believe he now has virtually no support in the Dublin organised crime scene.
Gilligan gave his original family home address in Corduff in north-west Dublin to prison authorities as his place of residence on gaining his freedom.
However, his wife Geraldine recently returned from Spain to the large bungalow they built in the grounds of the Jessbrook equestrian centre and he may go there. Geraldine Gilligan has been allowed to remain in the bungalow, though the rest of the 50-acre grounds are up for sale by the State.
Aside from his original, modest family home in Corduff, Gilligan has no known assets. His original gang was completely broken up in the investigation into the 1996 murder of Veronica Guerin.
Only one known associate who might assist Gilligan is involved in the drugs trade in Dublin, trading in cannabis. But gardai say he is a minor figure and does not have associations with any of the main drugs suppliers in the city.
Most of Gilligan's contemporaries have disappeared off the scene, most moving abroad to Spain or Holland. Some of the teenage drug runners who received their drugs from Gilligan's shipments have risen to become major figures in the Dublin crime scene, but none of these knew him personally and would have no loyalties to him, gardai said.
Some gardai said they believe Gilligan will have to go into hiding in the Jessbrook bungalow, which is still protected by high walls and fences and an electronic gate. The bungalow has been badly neglected since his imprisonment.
Geraldine and her daughter moved to Spain where they ran a bar and have spent much of the intervening years there. However, according to gardai, Geraldine continued to make occasional visits to the house in order to keep up her legal defence of it as a primary residence against seizure by the Criminal Assets Bureau.
The grounds and equestrian centre were, finally, passed into the legal possession of the State earlier this year and were put on the market in July with an asking price of €500,000 – a tenth of the price the centre was valued at after it was developed by Gilligan. The performance arena was to have been one of the largest in the country.
Local people say the entire property has remained untouched since Gilligan's imprisonment and that some of the cars that were driven by the family in the mid-1990s are still outside the bungalow, rotting away.