The murder of Real IRA boss Alan Ryan in September 2012, was perhaps the most significant gangland killing of the past decade, as the ramifications of the savage gun slaying are still being felt today.
At the time he was shot dead in broad daylight in a north Dublin suburban street, Ryan was the major player in dissident republicanism in the capital and was also embroiled in a number of bitter feuds with dangerous criminal gangs.
However, his various campaigns of extortion against the crime gangs meant that his life was in grave danger and he had been officially warned by gardai a number of times before he was finally gunned down around 3.30pm on September 3.
His fundraising’ activities and violent tactics, combined with his high-profile in the media, had been causing concern for some Real IRA bosses in the North who were worried that Ryan had become too powerful and a potential liability to the reputation of dissident republicanism.
But how did the situation come to this? In the years before his murder, Alan Ryan had become one of the most feared criminals in the country involved in extortion rackets that were worth hundreds of thousands of euro.
And he had been well known to the garda’s Special Detective Unit since he was just a teenager.
He was jailed for four years in 2001 for his role in a dissident republican training camp in Co Meath in October, 1999.
Ryan was also given a separate three-year prison sentence after being caught with a gun at his north Dublin home in September, 1998.
From Grange Abbey Drive, Donaghmede, north Dublin, Ryan, gained huge respect among other dissident republicans while serving these sentences in Ireland’s highest security prison in Portlaoise.
When he was released from jail, Ryan decided to go to war with the drugs gangs who were flooding the country with their product and making huge money.
He demanded large sums of cash off them and if they refused to pay up they became targets for his feared dissident gang who traded under the IRA name.
Ryan’s mob came to public attention in a major way in 2010, when they were involved in a bitter feud with a veteran Ballyfermot criminal who has made millions of euro from smuggling cigarettes into Ireland.
As part of this feud, the IRA crew are believed to have ordered the murder of Colm Collie’ Owens who was shot dead in Finglas in July, 2010 because he was closely linked to a man named The Smuggler’.
In a revenge attack the Ballyfermot crime gang enlisted criminal John Wilson to murder Ryan and some of his closest associates at the The Player’s Lounge pub in Fairview, which was owned by Ryan’s pal John Stokes, the father of Irish international and Celtic football star Anthony Stokes.
But instead of Ryan being murdered, three innocent men were shot by Wilson who was later shot dead himself in a separate dispute just a few weeks after Ryan was killed.
If this botched murder attempt was a warning that Ryan should step down from his extortion war with the crime gangs it was certainly a warning that he did not heed.
In fact Ryan, who was also a notorious womaniser and nicknamed The Model’ because of his good looks, stepped up his campaign of terror against criminals.
He was arrested for and is suspected of being behind the murder of drug-dealer Sean Winters, who was shot twice in the head outside an apartment in Portmarnock in September 2010.
A year later, some of Ryan’s closest associates are strongly believed to have been involved in the murder of major Dublin drugs trafficker Michael Micka’ Kelly.
It is widely suspected that both Winters and Kelly were shot dead because they refused to pay up extortion money.
No one has ever been convicted of the crime and Alan’s younger brother Vincent was cleared of firearms offences in relation to it after a trial last year.
By the stage that Micka’ Kelly was murdered in September 2011 gardai had finally got some kind of handle on Ryan.
Ryan appeared before Dublin District Court in May, 2011 where he and some of his closest associates were charged with threatening and making demands on a publican, ordering him to stop trading within 24 hours.
By the time that it came for these charges to be dealt with at Dublin Circuit Court, Ryan was dead and the case against the other co-accused later collapsed.
It was also in May 2011 that Ryan was involved in tense protests during Queen Elizabeth II’s historic visit to Dublin.
At the time he had been barred from certain areas of the north inner city by order of Dublin District Court but this did not stop him leading protests in the Christchurch area which later turned violent and he was even photographed while in a heated argument with gardai.
So while Ryan may have been a handsome pin-up boy for dissident republicans at this time, it was his activities in the capital’s dangerous criminal underworld that would ultimately lead to his death just 16 months later.
As Ryan’s powerbase grew his mob gradually became more embroiled in a bitter conflict with a gang of dangerous drug dealers who were led by the arch criminal nicknamed Mr Big’.
Throughout the winter of 2011 and the spring and summer of 2012, there were a number of dangerous spats between these two factions which intensified after one of Ryan’s mates was given a severe beating in a north Dublin nightclub which later led to Ryan’s mob stealing a huge amount of drugs cash from Mr Big’s organisation.
The situation was compounded by a number of failed assassination attempts on Ryan and brutal assaults being carried out on associates of senior criminals by Ryan’s mob.
Tensions were also growing within dissident republicanism and Ryan’s brutal nature could be seen in the fact that he chopped the fingers off a notorious criminal in the capital’s Fairview Pak in May 2012.
By August 2012, the situation was at boiling point in north Dublin. Then a number of north Dublin’s most senior and feared criminals decided to club together and have Ryan murdered. His days were indeed numbered.