John Gilligan returned to Dublin in fear of his life after 'running his mouth' at UK crime gang
John Gilligan's return to Dublin took many by surprise. It's no secret that Gilligan is a marked man for a number of criminal gangs operating in the capital - indeed he fled to the UK in March 2014 after two attempts on his life.
But history seems to repeat itself with Gilligan. Ireland's most loathed criminal returned to Ireland in fear of his life after he was threatened by a UK-based traveller gang.
The pint-sized criminal, who once deemed himself untouchable, was forced out of the Midlands after "running his mouth" off at the crime family.
Gilligan (64) had been living in a halting site in Birmingham - linked to the feared McCarthy/Dundon gang - for the last two years.
Such was the threat against Gilligan in the UK, he has now returned to Ireland despite being the prime target of a number of national and international organised crime gangs.
In typical Gilligan fashion, the once feared drug trafficker turned gangland target made a number of enemies in the UK due to his arrogant demeanour.
"The reason for Gilligan's return was that he was run out of Birmingham by a Traveller family. He was running his mouth at the family, and received a number of threats as a result of this," a source said.
"However, he realised that he was up against it and ran away in fear of his life back to Dublin, where he is still a target for a number of gangs," the source added.
The Herald captured Gilligan looking like he hadn't a care in the world outside a west Dublin premises on Thursday. The convicted drugs trafficker looked a different man from the fragile and scared gangster pictured leaving James Connolly Memorial Hospital in a wheelchair in March 2014 after surviving a botched assassination attempt.
His return to these shores comes two months ahead of the 20-year anniversary of the murder of investigative journalist Veronica Guerin, who was gunned down in her car on the Naas road in June 1996.
Gilligan remains the chief suspect for ordering the fatal shooting of the heroic Sunday Independent journalist. He was eventually convicted of drug trafficking in 2001, and was initially handed a 28-year-sentence, which was eventually reduced on appeal.
Gilligan was freed from Portlaoise Prison on October 15, 2013, but lasted just four months in Ireland.
He fled the country after surviving two botched assassination attempts, as well as the murder of his bodyguard, Stephen 'Dougie' Moran.