A FATHER-of-six was riddled with bullets at his home in front of his children in a cold-blooded assassination last night.
Gardai are investigating whether 'Fat' Andy Connors (45) was shot dead by dissident republicans after he refused to pay extortion demands, the Herald can reveal.
In distressing scenes in the aftermath of the shooting, his children could be heard wailing "oh my daddy, oh my daddy" as they were taken away from the scene.
Connors was hit by several bullets from a handgun in his upper body when his killer walked onto his property and shot the traveller gang boss through a patio window of his home in Saggart, south-west Dublin.
'Fat' Andy was the leader of a gang of thugs who have terrorised people across Ireland in a nationwide campaign of hundreds of burglaries in recent years.
While rarely involved in the burglaries himself, Connors was the mastermind behind dozens of criminals who use high-powered cars to travel up and down the country's motorway system.
"It's early days, but the strongest line at the moment is that Connors was taken out by dissident republicans. It is known that he refused to pay €50,000 to an INLA faction based in Tallaght earlier this year," a source said.
"But this may not be just the work of the INLA, other dissident groupings were obviously very much aware that Connors was a very wealthy man from his organised criminal enterprises." Connors had been a rich man for a very long time. In 2004, he settled a bill with the Criminal Assets Bureau for €150,000.
At that stage, he was suspected of making millions of euro dealing in horses, land and caravans.
He graduated from this to become one of the country's most notorious criminals and was a prime target for Operation Fiacla, the massive garda drive against burglaries nationwide.
Dozens of Connors' closest associates are before the courts as a result of the major garda push against his mob, which also includes some settled criminals as well as travellers.
Before moving into the house where he was murdered in, Connors lived in a caravan behind a huge house at Blessington Road in Saggart.
The property had 20 caravans on its grounds, an indoor swimming pool and five bedrooms.
He tried to sell the mansion after his settlement with CAB, but he could not get a buyer.
Connors had around 30 previous criminal convictions, including one dating from November, 2012, in which he was convicted of stealing an oven hob from Power City in Tallaght after he had an argument with his wife Anne in the store.
Earlier in 2012, Connors had appeared at Tallaght District Court where the judge was told that he had armed himself with a baseball bat, metal chisel and wrench with the intention of causing injury to another family during a bitter feud within the Traveller community.
In 2011, Connors was charged with burglary at Mulvey Park, Dundrum, Dublin.
He was also charged with possession of a screwdriver for use in the course of a theft at Gledeswood Drive, south Dublin.
In December,2012, Connors, his son John, and his nephew Miley were all jailed in connection with a burglary in Skehard Road, Cork. 'Fat' Andy received a ten-month sentence for this offence.
A court heard that an off-duty garda saw Andy Connors pull up outside the house just after 12pm. Connors was driving a silver BMW from which two younger men got out of before they called to a house at Ashleigh Gardens where there was no answer. In fact, the owner was in a shed in his back garden at the time.