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'Odious' gangster not able to dismiss this attack with usual macho bravado


John Gilligan leaves Portlaoise Prison. Photo: Collins

John Gilligan leaves Portlaoise Prison. Photo: Collins

John Gilligan leaves Portlaoise Prison. Photo: Collins

LAST September, I wrote in my weekly column for this newspaper about the imminent release of John 'Factory John' Gilligan.

A drug lord, and the boss and mastermind of the gang responsible for the brutal murder of journalist Veronica Guerin, he was released last October 15 from Portlaoise, the maximum security jail, having served 17 years of a 20-year sentence. I wrote then that Gilligan was yesterday's man and he would be emerging to a criminal underworld changed beyond all recognition since his incarceration.

I pointed out that the drug-crazed young psychopaths now running organised crime in his home city were mere children when he was jailed.

Factory John was truly delusional if he though he could once again establish himself among the criminal fraternity as the feared and respected mobster boss he once was.


His crime powerbase was finished. The once feared crime gang he led was no more. Its key members are either locked up, in witness protection or dead.

Gangland feuds and drug turf wars in his absence had fuelled a horrific wave of blood-letting. Such orgies of violence were rare in Gilligan's heyday of criminality.

I advised Gilligan that if he was to save his skin he should pack his bags and get out of this country as fast as his legs could carry him.

He didn't have the sense to take my advice.

In December he escaped with his life when gunmen targeted the wrong pub.

His would-be assassins went to the Halfway House pub in Ashtown in Dublin shouting, 'Where's Gilligan?'

Fortunately for him, he was drinking in the Hole in the Wall pub, less than a mile away

Certainly on that occasion, the devil looked after his own.

Again, with typical bravado, Factory John dismissed his close shave with death as just "a Halloween prank".

However, his luck ran out on Saturday night when two gunmen burst into his brother's house in Greenfort Avenue in Clondalkin where he was celebrating a christening party.

Gilligan (inset), who was cornered in the toilet, was hit four times in the chest, head, legs and lower body.

Despite taking four bullets, Gilligan's injuries are said not be not life-threatening. However it was a miracle that some of the innocent people present, who included children, were not seriously injured or killed in the terrifying attack.

Even in Dublin's criminal underworld, where the laws of the jungle rule without honour, Gilligan is a hated figure.

There will be no tears shed by anyone for this odious villain. Even the most hardened career criminals regarded the murder of Veronica Guerin as beyond the pale.

In the aftermath of that murder and the public revulsion that ensued, they blamed Gilligan for bringing the full weight of the law on their backs and interfering with their criminal enterprises, especially with the introduction of the Criminal Assets Bureau.


This little thug is still as arrogant and unrepentant as the first day he went into prison. He has shown no mercy or pity for his deeds.

Now as he recovers in hospital after this close brush with death, he can't dismiss this attempt on his life as a Halloween prank.

Factory John should have taken my advice. As he recovers, even a heartless villain like him should reflect on the sobering words that "he who lives by the sword dies by the sword".