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Paul Williams book extract: Inside the secret criminal underworld of gang leader John Gilligan

In December 2000, Ireland’s most notorious gangland figure John Gilligan went on trial for the murder of the Sunday Independent journalist Veronica Guerin. He was also charged with running a multimillion euro drugs empire. Gilligan was acquitted of the killing but was convicted of running the biggest drug-trafficking operation ever seen in Ireland, and sentenced to 28 years. In this extract from his new biography of Gilligan, Paul Williams tells how in the 1990s the gang leader forged links with John Traynor, to develop a vast criminal enterprise

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John Gilligan outside Dublin's Supreme Court in 2008

John Gilligan outside Dublin's Supreme Court in 2008

Gilligan by Paul Williams

Gilligan by Paul Williams

A still from a video of John Gilligan and John Traynor together at a party in Jessbrook

A still from a video of John Gilligan and John Traynor together at a party in Jessbrook

 John Traynor

John Traynor

Martin 'The General' Cahill provided seed money for the Gilligan and Traynor operation

Martin 'The General' Cahill provided seed money for the Gilligan and Traynor operation

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John Gilligan outside Dublin's Supreme Court in 2008

John Gilligan needed a partner he could trust. It had to be someone with a proven criminal track record who would help him to organise a drugs business, raise the seed capital and have the connections to launder the proceeds. There was one obvious choice — John ‘the Coach’ Traynor. His timing could not have been better.

The Coach had already arrived at the conclusion that drugs were the future and was also seeking out a partner. Traynor had different requirements for his prospective collaborator. He wanted someone who had plenty of clout in the underworld and would be the de facto public face of the organisation.


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