DETECTIVES will have to spend Christmas Day protecting a notorious Traveller criminal who is to be released from hospital after 17 months.
Anthony 'The Mole' McDonagh has been under 24-hour armed garda surveillance in Blanchardstown's Connolly Memorial Hospital since an attempt on his life in 2010.
The Herald has learned that the 45-year-old will be leaving the hospital to spend time at his home in Dunsink Lane in Finglas at Christmas but his armed garda detail will continue to protect him.
A source explained: "It is going to be a very grim Christmas Day for a couple of officers who will be spending their time - away from their families - protecting McDonagh in a halting site.
"Mr McDonagh's life is still under serious threat and therefore he will remain under 24-hour-protection. It will actually be a dangerous job for the gardai who will be protecting him."
'The Mole' has been under garda protection for the past year after surviving an assassination attempt July 2010.
Sources say that McDonagh is "desperate" to get home for Christmas but he is still gravely ill and is only alive because his shooter's automatic pistol jammed as he was about to finish off McDonagh during the gangland attack.
McDonagh was blasted five times by a lone gunman in broad daylight on the River Road in Finglas. The suspect is from Ballymun. McDonagh and his nephew, Kieran McDonagh (26) were attacked as they sat in their white Ford van after being stopped at what they thought were council roadworks.
The gunman approached the van and began firing, hitting Anthony McDonagh in the side and chest.
His nephew tried to flee to safety but was shot in the shoulder. The gunman's firearm jammed, allowing the McDonaghs to flee on foot.
In a sign of just how dangerous the situation is for 'The Mole', his close associate Tom McDonagh (49) was murdered in Ballymun in September.
Gardai believe Tom McDonagh was targeted by the same drugs gang who shot 'The Mole' and that his murder may be linked to the pair's friendship.
Earlier this year, the Herald revealed that that the taxpayer has forked out over €600,000 to pay for 'The Mole's' round-the-clock protection and care in hospital.
With the average bed costing over €900 per day, 'The Mole' ran up medical bills of around €313,000 in the last year alone.
That's on top of the cost of keeping an armed garda by the criminal's bedside 24 hours per day, at the cost to the taxpayer of over €183,000 per year.
In 2006, McDonagh was sentenced to three years in prison after carrying out shootings on two men in 2002.
He paid compensation of €38,000 to his victims - John Joseph McDonagh and Martin Ward.
In July of this year, a person claiming to be the cousin of 'The Mole' made a death threat to the injured man's rivals - on live radio.
The chilling warning was issued by a man who called a Dublin radio show, days before the first anniversary of the attempted murder of McDonagh.
"He ['The Mole'] is going looking for the fellas and putting a bullet in their heads. That's a fact," the angry caller stated.