Paul Williams: More bloodshed expected as all-out war is declared
When they stormed the Regency Hotel armed to the teeth, the callous killers and their boss were clearly anxious to impress on their enemies and the terrified innocent public that this is an all-out war.
And just in case we missed the message, three of the hitmen dressed in paramilitary-style fatigues, donned Kevlar helmets and armed themselves with AK-47 assault rifles as they went into combat. The other two members of the hit team, posing as a couple with one of them dressed as a woman, went in armed with automatic pistols.
This was a well-planned murder operation, carried out with military-style precision by people who were in total control and knew exactly what they were doing. The fact that they were prepared to storm into a high-profile event at a packed hotel armed to the teeth and in broad daylight is chilling on several levels.
The event was attended by Daniel Kinahan, the underboss of one of Europe's biggest organised crime syndicates and certainly the most formidable one operating in this country.
Everyone knew the thugs, who looked like they could have been extras from 'Love/Hate', would turn up in force for the big event.
Strangely, even though they knew the gauntlet had been thrown down by powerful forces associated with their victim Gary Hutch, the real-life Nidges didn't seem too worried. They proudly announced the weigh-in on social media.
Perhaps they felt untouchable and invincible; or were just too arrogant to realise the potential lethality of their former friends turned sworn foes.
The mastermind behind this gangland 'spectacular' was showing his targets that he and his mob possess the 'bottle', the firepower and the guile to hit them hard - anywhere, anytime.
One of the perplexing aspects of this terrifying incident is that it was carried out despite the fact that it would be a reasonable assumption that the gardaí would have placed the hotel and its gangland visitors under surveillance. The fact there were no undercover gardaí present at the Regency Hotel probably proved fortuitous - and avoided a bloody shoot-out with gun men using deadly firepower.
This act of terrorism by a criminal gang is, even by the standards of Ireland's underworld, unprecedented and deeply worrying.
With all the heat from a major police investigation the two sides in this dangerous game will fade into the background and wait for the fuss to die down. And when it does, there is one certainty - more bloodshed.