MURDERS linked to organised crime have dropped significantly in the past year, even though the overall death toll has only dropped slightly.
After a big jump in the number of murders committed in 2012, this year's total of 51 is down just one on the same period last year.
Knife and gun-related deaths have decreased this year -- but there has been a rise in the use of physical violence by killers.
Statistics compiled up to yesterday show that eight murders are being attributed to organised crime gangs, compared with 14 in that category last year.
These include the deaths of Philip O'Toole, from Bray, who was shot in the head by former associates in January; Paul Cullen, gunned down in front of his father in a northside Dublin pub in March; Lithuanian mobster Gintarus Zelvis, who was attacked in front of his wife in Rathcoole in May; and Alan Desmond, shot in the head by thugs in Tallaght, south Dublin, also in May.
Other victims of organised crime gangs were Carl Wynne, who died in July, seven weeks after he had been shot in the head in Tallaght; and Michael Kelly, murdered in Dublin's south city in July.
They also include Dean Johnson, gunned down in a case of mistaken identity in Clondalkin, west Dublin, in August; and Jason Carroll, who was also murdered in Clondalkin five days later, as he was about to be served with a tax demand for €100,000 by the Criminal Assets Bureau.
Dissident republicans were blamed for one murder this year, down from two in 2012.
Their victim was former Real IRA activist Peter Butterly, who was shot dead with a handgun in the car park of a pub at Gormanston, Co Meath, in March.
The murder toll includes two deaths that took place in 2011 but were not officially classified as murders until this year.
Those responsible for the murder of Gerard Daly, who went missing from his home outside Bailieborough, Co Cavan, in June of that year, remain undetermined -- and this could end up as another organised crime hit. His body has not yet been recovered.
The other involved Bobby Ryan, who also went missing that June. His body was found last May in a disused slurry pit in Fawnagowan, Co Tipperary.
His death is under active investigation by gardai and officers are confident that his killer will be prosecuted.
The biggest public outcry of the year came in January, when Det Garda Adrian Donohoe was shot dead by cross-border criminals, who were staging the robbery of a credit union at Lordship, outside Dundalk.
The killer opened fire as the detective got out of a garda escort car.
A big manhunt for his killers remains under way, but so far there have been no significant arrests or prosecutions.
Firearms were used in 15 fatalities with handguns involved in seven of them and shotguns in another five.
Knives featured in 12 murders while a hatchet was used in another. This compares with a total of 14 in that category in 2012.
Physical violence was blamed for eight deaths with three more attributed to strangulation, two from assault and one was put down to blunt force trauma.
This year's figures, however, may be slightly skewed at the moment as the weapons used in six of the murders have not yet been officially categorised because of ongoing inquiries.
A detection rate of 65pc has been recorded so far for the 2013 murders, which is quite high by international standards.