IRA murder victim Peter Butterly was the victim of a shocking gangland triple-cross, it has emerged.
Senior sources have confirmed that not only was Butterly shot dead by a "motley band of Alan Ryan thugs" but the man he considered a close friend betrayed him.
Dad-of-three Butterly (35) was murdered on Wednesday afternoon outside the Huntsman Inn at Gormanston, Co Meath.
Sources say he had earlier attended a meeting with other IRA figures in the pub and he was shot as he got into his Renault Laguna car.
Butterly attempted to flee but was "shot down like a dog" in the pub car park. A senior source told the Herald: "What happened in Gormanston gives a new meaning to murder most foul. This was a dirty, dirty, horrible murder."
The gangsters who killed Butterly had connections to murdered Real IRA terror chief Alan Ryan and one of Ryan's best friends is suspected of being the trigger man.
They have addresses in Tallaght, Blanchardstown, Raheny and the south inner city areas of the capital.
Ryan's mate is a dangerous thug aged in his early 20s and is one of five men still in custody today.
All are expected to face various serious charges.
However, what has shocked everyone is that the man Butterly considered to be his close is one of those in custody – he is being questioned about his friend's murder today at a garda station in Co Meath.
The West Dublin criminal is a well-known dissident Republican who previously survived an assassination attempt by Alan Ryan's mob.
A senior source explained: "There may well have been talk that this man was lucky to escape with his life when Ryan's cronies murdered Butterly. But gardai believe that he was at the centre of the plot. He was arrested close to the scene – the gang were attempting to hand him over the gun when he was lifted.
"Maybe his own life was under threat and he felt he had to do this but even gardai are sickened by this man's behaviour."
The Herald can reveal that his home was raided by armed officers yesterday evening while gardai got an extension to the time he can be held in custody. Nothing of evidential value was seized in the search which lasted for over an hour. His long term partner was said to be "very upset" at developments and she had even considered reporting him as a missing person before learning of his arrest.
IRA man Peter Butterly (35) had been involved in a long-standing internal feud with Alan Ryan and his mob and was even blamed by Ryan's cronies for setting the terror chief up for murder last September.
Sources say Butterly, who lived almost 20 kilometres away in Dunleer, Co Louth, regularly held meetings in the carpark of the Huntstown Inn and considered it a "safe place."
The murdered IRA man was under regular surveillance by the garda Special Detective Unit as were the mob involved in his murder.
Butterly and Alan Ryan's RIRA mob became mortal enemies over two years ago when they became embroiled in a number of major cash disputes.