Breaking news, Real IRA, Sean Connolly, Drug dealers, Real IRA Dublin, Dublin Real IRA, Dissident republicans
MEET THE tattooed RIRA gangster who heads up a dissident gang spreading fear and terror across Dublin's south inner-city. Sean Connolly (31), has been heavily involved in dissident activity for a decade and is a close associate of two notorious north Dublin RIRA brothers, one of whom, Alan Ryan was shot dead two weeks ago.
Despite claiming to be an anti-drugs activist, Connolly has struck up close links with members of mobster Brian Rattigan's gang since his release from prison last year.
He was spotted raving away with junior members of the gang at last month's controversial Swedish House Mafia concert. Today, the Irish Observer unmasks Connolly for the first time and reveals how his dissident gang is responsible for a series of shootings and pipe bomb attacks over the last year.
- the shooting of innocent banker Keith Deegan in Tallaght in April;
- a pipe bomb attack on the home of an elderly female relative of Eric 'Lucky' Wilson and;
- three separate 'punishment style' shootings in the Bluebell area of the city.
However, detectives now believe the bank clerk was shot in a case of mistaken identity by a RIRA gang who wrongly blamed him for attempting to abduct a young male relative of Connolly's. A few days before Mr Deegan was shot, a man driving a similar car to the Bank of Ireland worker had been involved in an incident with the young child.
Despite the fact that gardai believe the clash was not 'sinister', Connolly and his crew became convinced it was an attempted abduction. A source has claimed the gunman intended to shoot the bank clerk in the groin area as 'punishment'.
"The whole thing is bizarre.There was nothing sinister in the original incident, just a few words exchanged that didn't amount to anything. However, Connolly's crew got it into their heads that it was an attempted abduction. It shows how dangerous and erratic they are."
The Real IRA have dramatically stepped up their extortion campaign against Dublin criminals in recent years. The group have demanded protection money from drug dealers across the city and backed up their threats with violence. Led by two brothers from Donaghmede, one of whom was shot dead two weeks ago, the Real IRA gang have been responsible for executing Micka 'the Panda' Kelly and Sean Winters.
Gardai believe Dublin RIRA cells are given a large degree of autonomy as long as they kick cash upstairs to the 'organisation'.
Connolly's RIRA cell have also been responsible for a number of shootings and bombings in Inchicore, Drimnagh and Bluebell.
On April 2, the gang are believed to have left a bomb on the window of a female relative of a notorious hitman in the Bernard Curtis Flats, in Bluebell. The totally innocent woman - who is a relative of Eric 'Lucky' Wilson - was targeted in a sickening revenge attack for the murder of Darren Cogan in July, 2011.
One of 'Lucky' Wilson's associates is the chief suspect in the murder and the woman was targeted by the RIRA mob, despite the fact she had no involvement in crime. Cogan was a close pal of Connolly and his long-term girlfriend.
On the same night, the RIRA gang also launched a separate pipe bomb attack in Drimnagh. The attack was an attempt to intimidate a man who the gang have accused - without any firm proof - of committing a disturbing crime. The gang are also suspected of carrying out a shooting in Bluebell Avenue, in Drimnagh, in July.
Connolly was stopped by a Garda car close to the scene just minutes after the shooting. He was searched by two officers, but was released after they failed to find anything.
A source said Connolly is regularly spotted in the company of members of mobster Brian Rattigan's family across the south inner city. The RIRA chief was a childhood pal of Brian Rattigan and has maintained close links with his family.
Last month Connolly met a number of gang members following a failed hit attempt on criminal Owen Gaffney. Gaffney (22), was amazingly left unharmed after a hitman unleashed a volley of bullets at him near his home at the Basin Street Flats in the south inner city.
A source said: "Connolly is not directly involved with the Rattigan gang, but does socialise with them.
"He was at the Swedish House Mafia gig, raving away with Rattigan's cousin Aaron."
Aaron 'Twiggy' Rattigan (21), from Galtymore Road, Drimnagh, recently served a prison sentence for criminal damage of a head shop in Kildare in 2010.
In December, Connolly was arrested after two men were shot in Bluebell. Sean Kearns (43), from Claddagh Road, Ballyfermot, was shot in the leg and Stephen Fitzpatrick (24), suffered injuries to the chest when gunmen broke into the house on Huband Road.
Detectives believe Mr Fitzpatrick was not a target for the dissident gang and was shot by accident after a pellet ricocheted off a wall. Connolly was held for 48 hours before being released without charge. A file has now been sent to the DPP and gardai are hopeful charges can be brought.
It was not the first time Connolly had seen the inside of a Garda station. The thug has spent the majority of his adult life behind bars. In December 2004, Connolly was jailed for six years for Real IRA membership in the Special Criminal Court. Connolly was nabbed just months after being released from jail after completing a four-year sentence for firearms offences.
In September 2000, Connolly and his pal, Edward Heeney of Drogheda, Co. Louth, were arrested following an attempted robbery at a bookmaker's shop in Clondalkin, Dublin. Connolly was jailed for four years after he pleaded guilty to the unlawful possession of a sawn-off shotgun, a semi-automatic pistol, 10 shotgun cartridges and four bullets at his home.