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Lawlor killing 'doesn't mark Limerick mob's return,' say top gardai

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Shot dead: Hitman Robbie Lawlor was killed in Belfast

Shot dead: Hitman Robbie Lawlor was killed in Belfast

Shot dead: Hitman Robbie Lawlor was killed in Belfast

Gardai do not believe the murder of hitman Robbie Lawlor in Belfast marks the return of the notorious Mc- Carthy-Dundon gang.

Fears were voiced that the Limerick mob were back in business after it emerged they may have had connections to the Drogheda feud and Lawlor's murder.

Sources in Limerick, where gardai fought a 14-year battle to smash the gang, said they are a "spent force" with no power after their associates and foot soldiers deserted them following the murder convictions of leaders Wayne and John Dundon.

"We can assure the people of Limerick and Steve Collins, whose family suffered so much at the hands of the McCarthy-Dundons, that they don't have the people or the resources to get off the ground again," a senior garda said.

"If they try, the gardai will ensure it doesn't happen.

"There is peace in Limerick and that's how it will stay. The few remaining loyal associates are kept under watch.

"Nobody trusts them, which is why it did come as a surprise when they popped up in the Lawlor killing.

"In Limerick, their gang imploded when some of their own members and relatives broke ranks to testify against them.

"Then their former associates and foot soldiers, who lived in fear of them, were happy to see them put away."

Until last week, the mob had faded from public memory following the convictions of Wayne Dundon and Nathan Killeen for organising the murder of Roy Collins on Holy Thursday, 2009.

Dundon issued the order to commit the murder from his prison cell, while Killeen forced gang member James Dillon (23) to do the killing and also drove the getaway car.

Tricked

News of the apparent involvement of the gang in Lawlor's murder is the first time in six years they have been in the spotlight.

Gardai and the PSNI are still trying to establish the full extent of their involvement Lawlor's murder.

They believe they tricked him in a classic double-cross.

It is suspected that the Dundon brothers sent instruc- tions from prison to relations on the outside to help in setting up Lawlor for one of the factions in the Drogheda feud, associates of the gang led by Owen Maguire and Cornelius Price.

A man in his 30s, a teenage relative and a third associate from Limerick had travelled with Lawlor to the house in the Ardoyne where a gunman was waiting.

Prison sources said Wayne and Dessie Dundon openly celebrated news of Lawlor's killing last Saturday week.

Last Monday, suspicions were heightened when Dessie's partner and another woman were arrested after collecting €50,000 from a member of the Maguire-Price group which was seized by gardai.

Roy Collins' father, Steve Collins, told the Herald he was "sickened" when he heard the gang's name featuring in the news again, especially as it coincided with the 11th anniversary of Roy's murder and the death of Carmel, his mother, on Easter Sunday last year.

He said it made him concerned for the safety of his family, who have returned to Limerick hoping to rebuild their lives after being forced to leave Ireland under a witness relocation programme.