GANGSTERS linked to slain RIRA terror boss Alan Ryan set a bitter rival up to be murdered, gardai believe.
A close pal of Ryan is one of five men in custody today after a dissident republican was shot dead in a pub car park in Co Meath.
Detectives had recently informed Peter Butterly (35) of an immediate threat against his life after they received intelligence that Ryan's mob were gunning for him.
But senior sources say he had agreed to meet his killers for “a peace meeting” where he was shot dead in cold blood.
Another dissident who was with Butterly was forced to flee for his life when the gunman opened fire.
The 33-year-old criminal from Blanchardstown was later arrested close to the murder scene and remains in custody this evening.
Butterly had been involved in a long standing internal feud with Alan Ryan (inset left) and his mob.
He was even suspected by Ryan's cronies of having helped set up the terror chief’s murder last September
A gunman jumped out of the car and started firing at Butterly, who got out of the vehicle and attempted to flee before being shot at several times.
A senior source said: "Butterly was set up in a very bad way here. Despite being warned that his life was in danger, he did not see this coming.
"Butterly was very aware of his own security. To meet him those fellas would have had to arrange the meeting through a female associate of his."
Sources say that Butterly, who lived almost 20 kilometres away in Dunleer, Co Louth, regularly held meetings in the carpark of the Huntsman 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 who were involved in his murder.
After shooting him, the gang then fled onto the Balscadden Road in the direction of Gormanston College. Detectives in the area intercepted a Toyota Corolla car and arrested four men, all aged in their 20s.
A handgun was also recovered at the scene of the arrests, while a fifth man – aged in his 40s – was detained nearby in the pub carpark.
The Herald can reveal that Alan Ryan's close pal, who is in custody today, is originally from north Dublin but has been living in a fortified property in Dublin's south inner city because he is also under a death threat. The thug, in his early 20s, was a prominent mourner at Alan Ryan's funeral and was also at a controversial fundraiser held in Ryan's honour in a Crumlin pub.
A relative of the man is facing charges of IRA membership after he was arrested last year. Some of the other suspects picked up yesterday are described as "low-level hoods".
A source said: "One theory is that Butterly was meeting these lads for a peace meeting – he may have been under the mistaken belief that they wanted to sort out the feud."
"Because of his long history in dissident republicanism, he may have thought he was going to be chastising those lads, but he could not have been more mistaken."
Butterly and Alan Ryan's RIRA mob became enemies over two years ago when they became embroiled in cash disputes.
The situation escalated last year when Ryan's mob blamed Butterly for stealing €200,000 of cash from a truck driver on the M1 which belonged to 'Mr Big's' drugs gang.
The cash was never delivered to the Northern command that controls the IRA, leading to major internal frictions with Butterly's faction and Ryan's faction blaming each other for the missing cash haul.
Ultimately the gang led by Mr Big took advantage of the situation and killed Alan Ryan in Clongriffin, north Dublin, last September. Ryan's cronies then blamed Butterly for giving 'Mr Big's' crew key information about Ryan which led to his murder.
Senior sources say this is "unlikely" but with Ryan dead Butterly continued to shove his weight around and he was shot dead yesterday afternoon.