A BLOODBATH is feared when a Real IRA pensioner is released from prison in the coming days.
Barry Fitzpatrick is viewed as one of the most dangerous figures in the organisation.
The 70-year-old will be a free man within a week after being jailed in February 2011.
Fitzpatrick was previously considered the number one enforcer in the Dun Laoghaire branch of the Provisional IRA.
He was expelled following a feud, but gardai fear he will now attempt to "muscle himself to the top of the organisation" as well as settle old scores.
News of the release has sent shockwaves throughout the Real IRA.
The terrorist organisation is in turmoil following the death of boss Alan Ryan and has been ripped apart by turf wars, shootings and punishment beatings.
"Not only does the news of his release have gardai on high alert, but it is also spreading like wildfire among dissidents, many of whom will see themselves as targets of Fitzpatrick," a source explained.
The father-of-eight has three addresses in the capital – one in Foxrock and two in Ballybrack.
The Herald has learnt that he has launched an appeal against his conviction for IRA membership. However he will be released from prison before the appeal is heard.
Sources fear Fitzpatrick will take advantage of the current clean-up operation taking place in the Real IRA and target those whom he believes crossed him.
Gardai have already gathered intelligence that a number of dissident figures are terrified about Fitzpatrick's release.
"The entire dynamic of the Real IRA will change when Fitzpatrick is freed. A lot of people are on edge and certainly there are several criminals who will be trembling at the thought of him knocking on their door," said a senior source.
Fitzpatrick was sentenced to three years in February 2011 for IRA membership.
Detective Chief Superintendent Peter Kirwan, of Security and Intelligence, told the Special Criminal Court in December 2010 that he believed Fitzpatrick was an IRA member based on confidential information given to him.
The officer said Fitzpatrick had come to his attention "at every rank" of his 33-year garda career.
Fitzpatrick's release comes when the Real IRA is in crisis.
Last month The Herald revealed how the brother of a notorious dissident figure was abducted and shot by the Real IRA.
Ronan Connolly was kidnapped at gunpoint by a gang and then bundled into a van in Inchicore.
Sources say the incident was a punishment beating that got out of control.
The 28-year-old is the younger brother of a leading RIRA member Sean Connolly, who is facing murder charges.