A 31-YEAR-OLD dissident Republican who was shot outside a creche in north Dublin was "clinging to life" in hospital last night.
Notorious thug 'Fat Deccy' Smith was in an induced coma in Beaumont Hospital with "extensive damage to his face" after the shotgun attack at Holywell Avenue in Donaghmede at around 9am.
A senior source told the Herald: "He is clinging to life at the moment. His face is badly disfigured and his fate is now in the lap of the gods".
Witnesses at the scene told how the victim's face was "practically gone" after the daylight shooting.
Parents have described the "pandemonium and shock" in the aftermath of the shooting outside the centre.
Some parents were bringing their children to the Little Rainbow's creche when Smith was blasted at close range by a lone gunman after he dropped a child off.
The masked gunman fled the scene on foot.
One mother, Louise Mulligan, said she was with her son when she encountered the bloody scene – but didn't witness the incident itself.
"The man was still lying on the ground when I got around the corner, it wasn't pleasant," she said. "After that then it was just pandemonium and shock really."
It's understood the masked gunman fled the bloody scene on foot.
Belfast man Smith, who was a close pal of slain Real IRA terror chief Alan Ryan, had been just living in nearby Coolock after spending more than a year on the run. He had been shot in the leg by his former IRA associates in Saggart, south Co Dublin, after an internal cash row in the dissident Republican mob.
Smith was hated by the feared 'Mr Big' drugs gang who gardai suspect murdered his mate Ryan but they are not the chief suspects for yesterday's reckless murder bid.
However, the underworld was rife with speculation last night that Mr Big had ordered the hit.
Gardai think it is "very unlikely" that he was targeted by other dissident Republicans.
Instead, sources say it is "most likely" that the crew involved in the assassination attempt are a gang from north Dublin who are involved in armed robberies from cash vans. Yesterday, the Herald revealed that Smith and Ryan previously kidnapped and savagely tortured a senior member of this gang in an unsuccessful attempt to steal guns from the gangster just weeks before Ryan was shot dead.
Sources say that the gang vowed revenge for this incident and gardai are working on the theory that this was the motive for the shocking shooting.
It has emerged that senior members of this gang have been "looking for Smith" for months when they learnt that he had moved back living in the Coolock area in recent weeks.
Some of Smith's associates are wanted for questioning by the PSNI about the murders of Edward Burns (36) and Joe Jones (38).
The pair, who were members of the Continuity IRA in Belfast, were killed in March 2007 in a dispute involving stolen cash and missing weapons.
Jones was decapitated and his body abandoned in North Belfast.
Since that murder, Smith was forced to flee the North but has continued to be embroiled in bitter criminal feuds here after "Ryan took him under his wing".
The Herald previously revealed that Ryan was on his way to see 'Fat Deccy' Smith when he was gunned down in Clongriffin in September, 2012.
Smith was photographed at that murder scene which looked eerily similar to the scene at the shocking attack yesterday.