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Real IRA link probed after arson attack on drugs lord

GARDAI are investigating whether a Real IRA extortion gang is behind the firebombing of the home of the right-hand man of slain gang boss Michael 'Micka' Kelly, also known as The Panda.

The attack caused damage to the rear of the property at Foxhill Green, north Dublin, which is owned by major-league drug dealer Paul 'Burger' Walsh.

'Burger' Walsh (31) is currently based in Spain and the house was unoccupied at the time of the arson attack.

A unit of Dublin fire brigade put out the fire early on Tuesday morning.

Walsh was the right-hand man of 'Micka' Kelly -- the drug baron who, it is suspected, was murdered by the Real IRA in September outside an apartment block in Clongriffin.

The Real IRA -- led by two notorious brothers -- have been at war with The Panda's gang for months and the attack on Walsh's home is believed to be the biggest development since Kelly was shot dead with an AK-47 in a daylight attack.

Graffiti threatening Walsh has been sprayed near the Foxhill property, as well as at other areas of Coolock, in recent days.

In a warning on a nearby wall, 'RIRA Burger Your (sic) Next Like The Panda' was written in red spray paint just yards from the property.

"The Real IRA are determined to wipe out anyone who was closely associated with Kelly and no one was closer to him than Walsh," according to a source.

Suspects

"They have to be the main suspects for the arson attack," the source added. 'Burger' Walsh is considered one of the capital's biggest drug dealers and sources believe he has been flooding Ireland with cannabis herb from his Spanish base.

He has over 26 criminal convictions here and was targeted by the Criminal Assets Bureau in 2007 when the agency confiscated property and cash valued at almost €600,000 from him.

Walsh had begun to build a property portfolio in Dublin, Laois and Wexford when his drug-dealing activities came to the attention of CAB.

Walsh did not travel home to Dublin for his close pal Kelly's funeral in September and it is believed he stayed away because of fears of being attacked.

Burger's crew have been feuding with a rival Coolock gang who were responsible for the murders of two innocent cousins at a petrol station in Finglas last November in a case of mistaken identity.

hnews@herald.ie