A FORMER close associate of gang boss John Gilligan who was involved in laundering money for him is the main suspect for organising the attempt on his life.
Gardai believe the attempted murder was ordered by a major Irish drugs ring based in Spain, which blames Gilligan for causing the criminal assets-seizure legislation in the aftermath of the murder of Veronica Guerin in June 1996.
The cartel has lost millions in seizures here and in Spain as a direct result of the legislation.
Gilligan's remaining associates supplied him with a rented bullet-proof BMW X5 car for a visit to the Four Courts in Dublin last Tuesday where he is pursuing his case against the seizure and sale of his former equestrian centre, Jessbrook, in Co Kildare. He is currently living in a rented apartment in Kildare.
The man gardai believe orchestrated the attempt on his life is one of two brothers who worked for Gilligan in the early Nineties. After his imprisonment, they began working for the Irish drugs cartel, whose leading figures emigrated after the introduction of the Proceeds of Crime Act here in 1997.
The brothers switched their allegiance to the ring, which succeeded Gilligan in becoming the main supplier of drugs to the Irish market.
Gilligan had attempted during his incarceration to rebuild his drugs smuggling operation, but failed. Garda sources say he is without funds and may now be considering leaving Ireland.
The sources say Gilligan cannot move to Spain and remains in danger so long as he stays in Ireland. He had been under surveillance for weeks prior to the attempt on his life last Thursday week. The attempt failed when the motorcyclist carrying the assassin hired to kill him mixed up the name of the pub in which he was drinking. Gilligan was in the Hole in the Wall pub on Blackhorse Avenue when the gunman walked into the Halfway House about a mile away.
The gunman walked into the pub and called out his name. Customers called gardai who pursued and almost caught the would-be assassins. The gunman threw away the handgun, which was recovered by gardai.
Gilligan was issued with a formal warning by gardai that his life is under threat, but refused to co-operate with supplying his contact details.
The brothers, who worked with Gilligan when he became the biggest drugs-supplier in the country, were well known to gardai as fraudsters who helped him launder his assets through a variety of schemes ranging from placing big bets on horse races to setting up bank accounts in off-shore tax havens.