AT least 15 gangsters planned the murder of RIRA boss Alan Ryan a year ago today, gardai believe.
A number of Ryan's girlfriends were also being watched in the weeks leading up to the killing.
On the anniversary of his murder, the Herald can reveal:
* Two months of planning went into the daylight killing, involving around 15 major gangsters.
* Senior figures within the Real IRA were aware an attack was imminent.
* Surveillance was carried out on Ryan and his many girlfriends in the weeks before the murder.
Ryan's ex-girlfriend Emma Maher (inset left) visited his grave yesterday which was covered in flowers.
Gardai have also ruled out one of two notorious brothers who have carried out a spate of gangland murders over the past decade.
Sources told the Herald that the killers were aware of Ryan’s every move during August and September last year.
“Intelligence has come in that there were a number of meetings between one of the leaders of the gang who had Ryan murdered and Ryan's bosses in the North,” a senior source explained.
“The crime organisation warned the senior dissidents that they would ‘take care' of Ryan if he and his cronies did not stop ripping them off and attacking them.
“They were warning Ryan's bosses that they would kill Ryan and yet nothing was done to stop them.”
Detectives also believe that at least one of Ryan's closest associates was involved in drugs and giving information to the crime gangs that clubbed together to murder the terror chief.
This criminal is now facing serious charges before the courts.
And they have been thrown out of the IRA which has been in a state of turmoil since Ryan was shot dead near his home in Clongriffin on September 3 last year.
Yesterday, on the eve the anniversary of his death, Ryan’s ex-girlfriend paid a special visit to the gang leader’s graveside.
Emma Maher (29) left two simple balloons at the grave which was covered in wreaths of flowers in the colours green, white and orange.
The highly decorative black marble gravestone bears the inscription: ‘Vol. Alan Ryan, Dublin Brigade IRA, Died 3rd September 2012 aged 32 years. RIP’
The gang who murdered Ryan are one of Ireland's biggest crime cartels who specialise in drugs trafficking, tiger kidnapping and armed robberies – they are led by two notorious north Dublin criminals.
All of the gangsters who were involved in the plot are still alive and have not been targeted in any meaningful way by the newly formed IRA grouping which has emerged since the start of the year.
Sources say that this is “extremely significant”.
“Look at it this way, a lot of these gangsters are now just walking the streets without a care in the world – they don't seem at all bothered about the IRA or their capabilities,” they explained.
“It should also be noted that in the past year virtually all of Alan Ryan's close associates have been booted out of the organisation including his older brother Anthony.”
The garda investigation into the murder is ongoing and senior sources say that the gangland hit was “one of the best organised” in recent years.
“The shooting was far from a spur of the moment thing. It was planned for many weeks and even up to two months,” a source told the Herald.
“Cars and apartments were all sorted in advance – flight tickets were booked – it was a large enterprise involving criminals acting in a disciplined and determined way.
“These lads carried out their own surveillance on Ryan and had a great handle on his movements.
“They were watching as he spent many of his evenings visiting his string of girlfriends and they were obviously watching as he walked down Grange Lodge Avenue on the day of the killing.
Gardai have not identified the actual gunman but have been investigating a small list of names.
The gunman who is described as “very tall” was wearing a disguise and was caught on CCTV from a medical vehicle when he shot Ryan and his pal Aaron Nealis from Sligo who was hit in the leg in the gun attack as they walked on the road with a third man who was uninjured.
Sources say that the investigation team have not ruled out the involvement of a foreign criminal in the murder but describe it as “unlikely.”