A convicted killer has been placed on lockdown behind bars for his own safety after being attacked by an associate of the Kinahan cartel.
The Herald has learned that Michael Kinsella (27), serving a 15-year jail term for his involvement in the stabbing of a man to death, is in protective custody over fears he will be targeted further.
The Dublin criminal was the target of a jailhouse assault, and prison officials believe Kinahan gunrunner Andrew O'Keeffe was behind the attack.
O'Keeffe (30) is currently serving an eight-year prison sentence after being caught with a loaded firearm and silencer during a foiled hit by gardai.
Sources said that a falling-out between Kinsella and senior associates of the cartel behind bars is believed to be the motive behind the attack.
The assault happened on December 29 in Mountjoy Prison and, while Kinsella didn't suffer serious injuries, he was placed in protective custody for his own safety.
"Kinsella had a disagreement with some of the senior figures inside, including Dean Howe, which then led to the attack by O'Keeffe," the source said.
Senior cartel figure Howe pleaded guilty last month to conspiracy to commit murder after gardai foiled a plot to kill Hutch associate Gary Hanley.
"Officials believe Kinsella in some way disrespected the hierarchy by not following their orders and now is on a restricted regime and away from the general population for his own welfare," added the source.
Kinsella, of Swiftbrook Close in Tallaght, pleaded guilty in December 2015 to manslaughter for his part in the killing of Adil Essalhi at Tyrrelstown, Dublin, on January 6, 2011.
In June 2016, Justice Deirdre Murphy sentenced him to 15 years, saying it would be "difficult to envisage a more horrific case of manslaughter".
Since then, he has been investigated several times by prison authorities for internal disciplinary issues within the jail.
His victim, Mr Essalhi, was stabbed and slashed 50 times. Michael Kinsella admitted stabbing him, but the prosecution accepted that the majority of the wounds were inflicted by his uncle Wayne Kinsella.
Wayne Kinsella had earlier been sentenced to life for Mr Essalhi's murder. Michael Kinsella was charged sometime later.
Justice Murphy explained that she was backdating the sentence due to the delay between the completion of the investigation and Michael Kinsella being charged.
During the previous hearing Justice Murphy refused to suspend any of the sentence but recommended that his term be reduced by one third by the Justice Minister if he "genuinely engages" with addiction treatment and education and counselling while in prison.
Career criminal O'Keeffe was recruited by the Kinahan cartel to kill mobster Kane McCormack because he had been a friend of the victim.
O'Keeffe knew the target's movements and was chosen for that reason, they said.
In July 2018, O'Keeffe, of Drumcliffe Road, Cabra West, was jailed for eight years by the Special Criminal Court for having a handgun and silencer.
It is believed he was on his way to murder Mr McCormack when he was involved in a confrontation with armed gardai which led to his arrest.
The white Citroen Berlingo van in which he was a passenger collided with a garda patrol car.
Mr McCormack (24) was shot dead and his body found on farmland in Co Meath in December 2017, three months after O'Keeffe's arrest.
Sentencing O'Keeffe in 2018, Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding at the non-jury court, said while the accused was not the driver, there were very "serious episodes" of dangerous driving which put the public at risk.
Referring to O'Keeffe's "past failures", the judge said it was in the defendant's interest for the court to encourage him to turn away from crime.
O'Keeffe has 71 previous convictions which include assault causing harm, violent disorder, public order and theft.