A FEMALE assassin who has pleaded guilty to the murder of a van driver was part of a terrorist hit team planning to kill six members of a rival faction.
The hit list was drawn up after an internal row split the Continuity IRA and resulted in a deadly feud.
The plot was revealed last night after 50-year-old mother Rose Lynch admitted her role in the fatal shooting of innocent van driver, David Darcy, after her accomplices mistakenly linked him to the rival group.
Mr Darcy, a father of two, was shot by two attackers as he was about to reverse his van out of the driveway of his house at Cherry Orchard Avenue in west Dublin to drive to work on the morning of November 28, 2011.
Blonde-haired Lynch was one of his two killers.
Her accomplice, a senior Continuity IRA (CIRA) member from west Dublin, has not been charged in connection with the murder.
The two of them were described by gardai in evidence given in a court bail application as members of a CIRA "active service unit" that intended to murder a total of six people they believed to be linked to a rival faction of the organisation.
Anti-terrorist officers suspect that members of the hit team, and their bosses, feared their rivals would attempt to overthrow them and attack some of their associates. They decided to "get their retaliation in first", one senior officer told the Irish Independent.
But while determining their targets, they mistakenly identified Mr Darcy as being involved in an earlier shooting and listed him for attack.
Gardai emphasised last night that Mr Darcy, who was originally from Ballyfermot in west Dublin and worked for a meat products company in the Ballymount industrial estate, had no connection with either faction and had never come to their attention.
Lynch and her accomplice made their getaway after the shooting in an Opel Astra car, which had been stolen in Limerick five days earlier.
Shortly after the murder, the car was found burnt out in nearby Inagh Road.
The following month gardai detained Lynch and a man when they intercepted a car on the Naas Road.
The car had been travelling into Dublin from Limerick when stopped by armed gardai.
Lynch had 25 rounds of 9mm ammunition in her handbag when she was searched.
As a result of further inquiries gardai seized two firearms, neither of which was used in the Darcy murder.
Gardai believe those weapons had been sourced in Limerick and were intended for use in another shooting.
They were found during the search of a premises in west Dublin.
Members of the Garda's regional support unit in Limerick subsequently stopped a car in a city suburb and recovered a loaded revolver.
This weapon was also believed to have been collected for use in the assassination campaign.
Some of the progress in the garda investigation was linked to the seizure of car keys, which resulted in follow-up searches. One key was connected to a car stolen in Cork by the CIRA.
The internal feud erupted into violence in the summer of 2011 when CIRA man Liam Kenny was shot dead at his home in Clondalkin.
Extra armed gardai were drafted into the streets of west Dublin, but tensions remained high until the arrest and charging of Lynch.
In the Special Criminal Court yesterday, Lynch, with an address at Oakleigh Wood, Dooradoyle, Limerick, pleaded guilty to the Darcy murder.
Lynch was charged in December 2011 with the murder as well as membership of an illegal organisation, styling itself the IRA, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, on November 28, 2011.
She was also charged with possession of a shotgun and revolver with intent to endanger life on November 28, 2011, possession of a Walther pistol and eight rounds of ammunition on a date between November 25 and December 14, 2011, and possession of 25 rounds of 9mm ammunition at the Naas Road, Dublin, on December 15, 2011.
She was arraigned on the murder count only yesterday morning. Senior counsel for the State Paul Greene asked that sentencing be held over until today as there were procedural aspects that needed to be "ironed out" by both prosecution and defence.
The mandatory sentence for murder is life imprisonment.
Mr Greene also said he had received a victim impact report from Mr Darcy's partner and his father was due to furnish a document later.
Presiding Judge Elizabeth Dunne said the court would remand Lynch in custody and adjourn the sentence hearing until today.