A GUNMAN entered a Dublin pub in a bid to assassinate freed gangster John Gilligan.
The raider armed with a 9mm handgun went into the popular Halfway House on the Navan Road looking for the former crime boss yesterday afternoon.
Following the incident gardai have now formally warned John Gilligan that his life is in danger.
However, 61-year-old Gilligan wasn't in the premises and the would-be killer fled the scene on a high-powered motorcycle.
The gunman entered the pub beside the Phoenix Park, reportedly saying “where's Gilligan, where's Gilligan?”.
After searching the bar, and failing to find his target, the bungling hitman left.
He had mistakenly thought Gilligan was drinking in the establishment.
A Garda spokesman confirmed: “At 4pm, gardai responded to an incident in a pub on the Navan Road.
“A man in motorcycling gear had walked around the pub with a firearm apparently looking for someone.
“A short time later gardai tried to stop a motorbike on Ratoath Road in Finglas.
“The man discarded a firearm and fled (on the motorbike).
“The 9mm pistol is to be technically examined and investigations are ongoing.”
It is understood that the Garda's elite Special Detective Unit responded to the incident.
Plain-clothes and uniformed officers remained at the scene yesterday evening.
CCTV footage is being examined as part of the investigation.
A worker in the pub told the Herald “some fella walked in and then walked out again” but that “there was no issue”.
“I was standing in front of him when it happened. He just walked in, walked around and left.
“I didn't see any gun on him,” he added.
Nevertheless, gardai were called to the scene and subsequently pursued an individual on a motorcycle.
Since Gilligan's release from Portlaoise Prison on October 15, gardai have been on high alert over possible assassination attempts.
The gangster had spent 17 years behind bars on drug trafficking offences.
The incident in the Halfway House took place just two days after Gilligan's estranged wife Geraldine was told to prove she is not drawing an income from her daughter Tracey's pub in Alicante, Spain.
Geraldine has taken the Department of Social Protection to court for cutting off her welfare payments.
John Gilligan was accused of ordering the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin, who was gunned down in June 1996.
He was cleared of her murder in 2001 but Brian Meehan, a member of Gilligan's gang, was sentenced to life in prison in 1999 for her murder.