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WHEN Eamon Dunne was murdered in a northside pub in April of 2010, the fear was that his cold-blooded execution would create a deadly power vacuum, one which would lead to bloody gang warfare on the streets.

After all, The Don's gang were responsible for 15 murders since he took over the Finglas gang that had been led by crimelord Martin 'Marlo' Hyland .

Marlo himself was murdered in December 2006.

Ever since the days of The Westies and psychopathic criminal PJ Judge, the neighbouring suburbs of Finglas/ Blanchardstown and Ballymun have had to deal with more than their fair share of gangland violence.

But the reign of terror imposed by crazed Eamon Dunne was unprecedented in the capital's gang scene.

Softly spoken and relatively well educated, Dunne was a massive hit with the ladies and sources say that his almost crazed sex drive was driven by the use of Viagra.

Until the gun murder of Traveller Tom McDonagh in Ballymun last weekend, the area had seen a dramatic decline in gang related violence since Dunne's murder.

It is understood that McDonagh was murdered over a drugs debt to Finglas gang.

"The lull in murders and complete drop in shooting incidents in the past 16 months has to be linked to the fact that Eamon Dunne is no longer with us," explained a senior source.

The situation had been so bad previously that a small area in Finglas west was dubbed the 'murder mile' or 'murder triangle' after up to 20 people were murdered in the space of a decade.

Most of these killings are unsolved gangland shootings in a small area which encompasses Cappagh Cross, Ratoath Road and Cardiffsbridge.

With the murders of Eamon Dunne and other gang bosses who came before him, the situation has eased in Finglas, Blanchardstown and Ballymun over the past year.

But the sprawling estates of north Dublin are still home to some of the most dangerous gangs in the country.

The Don's gang are still active and dealing in millions of euro worth of drugs.

But gardai have had some major successes against them.

Many of the core members of Dunne's crew cannot be named here because they are before the courts on charges including armed robbery, murder and dug dealing.

One of The Don's former associates who we can name is feared hardman Brian O'Reilly -- a Ballymun native who now lives in Co Meath.

"O'Reilly is a big tough man but he is very paranoid. He deeply dislikes the media and the gardai who he accuses of colluding against him.

"He is a man of few words but when he talks everyone listens. He has great respect," a source explained.

O'Reilly, who remains a major target for specialised garda units, was lucky to escape with his life when targeted by a gunman in a pub in Bettystown, Co Meath.

He was shot in the chin and back as he drank in his local pub in August, 2010.

But he survived the murder bid organised by the Real IRA.

A month later O'Reilly's close pal Eamon Kelly (62) cheated death when the Real IRA tried to murder him at his home in Killester.

A source said of Kelly: "On the outside, he seems like the quintessential retired Dubliner -- he enjoys his pints and going to the bookies but in reality he is a criminal campaigner with links to most of the crime gangs in the State."

This year has seen the strength of the gang who murdered Dunne grow considerably and sources say that they operate drugs rackets in the Finglas/Cabra area.

Dunne's murder in the Fassaugh House pub was "sanctioned" by some of his own gang members and the gang's drug supplier, international crimelord Christy Kinahan.

The Herald has previously revealed that the chief suspect for the murder is a young man in his early 20s from the Cabra area who was very close to slain crime boss Hyland.

A former detective described Marlo's way of doing business as "unprecedented".

"He formed alliances with everyone he could -- he knew that murder was bad for business so he tried to keep away from it.


"But in the last few months of his life the paranoia got to him. He couldn't eat or sleep properly -- he knew his days were numbered."

The young thug is considered "the leader" of a dangerous crew of young criminals from the Finglas, Cabra and north inner city areas who have built up a fearsome reputation for gangland violence since they were aged in their mid teens.

Gardai have placed the dangerous gangster "on top of the list" for pumping eight bullets into 'The Don' -- one of the most notorious criminals in the history of Irish gangs.

He was also involved in the murder of innocent Latvian woman Baiba Saulite in November 2006.

While these young thugs increase their powerbase, the area's veteran criminals continue to operate.

Some of these older criminals had strong links to Paul 'Farmer' Martin -- the Finglas crimelord who was murdered in August 2008.

Others are connected to a 44-year-old local man -- who was a childhood friend of Marlo Hyland.

As Marlo rose to become one of Ireland's biggest drug dealers, this man was constantly at his side.

The 44-year-old -- who now lives in the Finglas area -- was arrested in April by the Garda National Drugs Unit.

Undercover detectives seized more than €400,000 worth of cannabis resin.

Before the massive drugs seizure, detectives watched the gang transfer 70 kilos of the drug near the border before making arrests. However, the Finglas resident was later released without charge.

The Real IRA also have an active presence in this area.

In late March, mobsters from the Continuity IRA claimed responsibility for shooting three men in broad daylight in Corduff Park, Blanchardstown.

The victims were targeted because the dissidents claimed they were guilty of anti-social behaviour.

David Morgan (20) and cousins Gary (25) and Christopher Gleeson (26) all survived the shooting.

The duplicity of the CIRA is breathtaking.

Led by the former head of the Real IRA in Dublin -- now on remand in prison on other charges -- the Continuity mob were responsible for a pipe bomb attack in May at the home of an innocent family in Whitestown.

Also this year, armed gardai swooped on three Blanchardstown men who formerly had links with the infamous Westies gang, whose leaders Shane Coates and Stephen Sugg were murdered in Spain in 2004.

The gangsters were believed to be on their way to carry out a Tiger kidnapping when arrested by armed detectives.

Sources said that the three men had all been key members of the infamous Westies organisation which caused so much trouble a decade ago.

It was also this summer that the Herald profiled a gang from this area who were involved in a new criminal craze called 'fishing'.

A gang of thugs from Finglas and Blanchardstown used fishing rods and magnets to steal more than 100 high powered cars.

Gardai branded the new criminal craze 'fishing' because it involves the gang attaching a magnet to the end of a fishing rod or long wooden pole, pushing it through letterboxes and using it to remove car keys left behind locked doors.

The gang have been selling the high-quality cars for just €1,200 to UK criminals.

The gang has close links to Finglas criminal David Fahy (29) from Cappagh Avenue who was recently released from jail after serving two years for possession of a sawn-off shotgun and cocaine.

However, sources say that Fahy -- who has 152 previous convictions -- is not involved in the scam himself.

The mob also has links to a Traveller gang who operate in the Dunsink area of Finglas.