THE attempted murder of a member of a notorious crime gang has sparked concerns a violent feud may reignite.
Several years after a bloody turf war plagued Limerick and led to daily armed garda patrols, Christy Keane was shot several times as he made his way to an early morning gym session.
The father-of-two, a convicted drug dealer in his 50s, was ambushed as he parked his car at the University of Limerick.
Keane tried to flee on foot and was discovered by emergency crews near running tracks at the sports arena about 100 metres from where the first bullets were fired by two masked men.
Gardai said the shooting occurred at about 6.50pm and there had been no specific threat to the gang figure's life in recent times.
Two cars were found partially burnt-out later - a red Ford Focus with the partial registration 132-D believed to have been used by the gunmen to flee the university grounds, and a white Volvo v70 with a British registration, thought to be a second getaway car.
The Ford was found in Monaleen while the Volvo was in the Drombana area.
Superintendent Derek Smart, head of the investigation at Henry Street Station, said there had been a marked reduction in gang crime on the streets of Limerick since the 2000s.
"There has been great success in regard to violent crime in Limerick City ... the numbers and statistics prove they have dropped amazingly well over the last number of years through the support of the public, the local authority and all stakeholders working together," he said.
"I'm confident that partnership we have with the community will continue."
Mr Smart added: "Resources will always be an issue but I am satisfied we have the numbers of people working in the different locations around the city and if we need national support they will be brought into us as well."
Garda figures say that in 2007 there were at least 102 firearms incidents in the city, falling to 10 last year.
Keane was part of the Keane-Collopy faction which was embroiled in a violent feud with the McCarthy-Dundons for several years.
At least a dozen deaths were linked to the feud and inter-family disputes between gangs in the city, but others put the figure closer to 20.
Keane was jailed for 10 years for cannabis offences and his brother Kieran was murdered in 2002 after being lured to a trap by members of the McCarthy-Dundons gang as part of the drugs turf war and inter-family disputes.
Christy Keane was said to be in a critical condition following the latest murder attempt.
The University of Limerick remained open following the attack but the campus is not as busy as other times of the year due to the summer break and a spokeswoman said normal business of the college would carry on despite the garda presence.
"Gardai are investigating an incident that took place early this morning in the car park of the University Arena. The university is co-operating fully with the investigation," a spokeswoman said.
"All university facilities are open and functioning as normal, including the University Arena."