MURDERED IRA man Peter Butterly had been heavily involved in dissident Republicanism for over 15 years.
The Louth man had been a massive target for the Garda Special Detective Unit since his teenage years when he was strongly linked to Real IRA founder Michael McKevitt – who was later found liable for the Omagh bomb atrocity.
After his mentor McKevitt was jailed for 20 years for directing the activities of a terrorist organisation, Butterly's stock continued to rise in dissident Republicanism.
Sources say he forged close links with the organisation's Northern leadership and was one of four leaders of the Real IRA.
A source said: "At his peak – this lad was massive. He was in charge of a huge patch which included Co Louth and Co Meath."
A non-drinker and non-smoker, sources say Butterly was "completely devoted" to his wife Eithne and three children aged between four and 14. He was a talented GAA footballer and is believed to have represented Louth.
But he was also devoted to an extreme form of Republicanism and sources say that he was directly involved in at least four armed robberies and on the "sidelines" of a number of murders.
Problems started for Butterly because of his close friendship with Seamus McGreevy, who committed suicide at his home in Gormanstown in February, 2010.
A month before he died, a cannabis growing operation, valued at €1,500, was discovered in a property owned by McGreevy in Co Donegal. Sources say that Butterly's friendship with the discredited McGreevy also led him to be discredited within the organisation.
At the same time, the Real IRA became ever hungrier for money in their major extortion rackets and this led to a massive feud between Butterly and Alan Ryan's mob as they competed over cash being taxed from drug dealers.
Sources say that Ryan's crew hated that Butterly was "shoving his weight around in north Dublin."
In October 2010, the elite Special Detective Unit scored a major success against Butterly when they launched an operation against him.
A haul including 3kg of TNT explosives, a light purpose general machine gun, a sawn-off shotgun, pipe bombs, more than a dozen fully assembled detonators and bomb components were found.
The seizures were linked to what was alleged to have been a bomb-making factory in Co Wexford.
Butterly was charged with membership of an illegal organisation. The Special Criminal Court heard his arrest was part of a probe into the alleged transportation of bomb components for assembly.
But after pleading not guilty, his trial collapsed as a result of a Supreme Court ruling that arrests carried out under Section 29 of the Offences Against the State Act, were unconstitutional.