A man has been arrested by gardaí investigating the attempted murder of convicted gangland criminal Christy Keane in a carpark on the grounds of the University of Limerick.
The suspect, who is in his 30s, was arrested on Monday night in Limerick and is being detained for questioning at Henry Street Garda Station, under the provisions of Section 50 of the Criminal Justice Act 2007.
Two handguns believed to have been used by the gunmen have also been recovered.
The firearms were discovered in a red Ford Focus hatchback which was found burnt out in Monaleen shortly after the shooting which took place in a car park adjacent to University of Limerick Sports Arena at 6:45am on Monday.
The handguns are believed to be in a poor condition.
The Dublin registered car was one of two high powered get away vehicles found partially burnt out after the shooting.
A white Volvo v70 with English registered plates, believed to be the second getaway car, was found in Drombana.
Keane, a 54-year-old father of two, remains in a serous but stable condition at University Hospital Limerick and gardaí are due to interview him today.
The brother of murdered crime boss Kieran Keane was shot a number of times shortly before 6.45am on Monday after he was ambushed in one of the car parks on the grounds of the University of Limerick.
Keane had just parked his Nissan Nevaro jeep and was making his way to an early morning gym session at the University Sports Arena when he was targeted by two masked men armed with hand guns.
The well-known convicted criminal, who visits the gym a number of times a week, was shot several times in the upper body and arms but managed to flee 100 yards before collapsing on the running track behind the arena, where he was discovered by emergency crews.
A Garda spokesman said they were not aware of any specific threat against Mr Keane’s life, however it’s understood members of a northside based drugs gang are the chief suspects for the attempted murder.
The shooting happened just weeks after a Garda sergeant warned of an increase in hostilities between members of criminal organisations previously based in the Moyross and St Mary Park areas.
During a recent bail hearing at Limerick district court, Det Sergeant Pádraig Byrnes said there have been “green shoots and a re-emergence of the feud which dogged the city for years”.
The court heard that at least 18 murders can be directly linked to the feud over the past 14 years and that gardaí fear there could be a further loss of life given the recent escalation of incidents involving the “new wave of gang members.”
Meanwhile, Limerick City Councillor and retired Detective Garda Sean Lynch said nobody wants to see a return to the violent bloodshed of recent years but he insisted that gardaí need the resources to keep on top of the criminals especially those involved in the drugs trade.
“At the end of the day this is all about drugs….Nobody wants to be going back to the shootings and killings. Too many people have been killed for nothing. We are all sick of it. The only people that benefit from this is the undertakers,” said Cllr Lynch who is chairman of the local authority’s Joint Policing Committee.
“But the gardaí can only do so much with limited resources. Morale is at rock bottom. They don’t have enough resources. I knew this was going to happen because a lot of gardaí are being taken off Community policing to escort prisoners from Limerick prison up and down the country .
“If you don’t have a police force that can apply a zero tolerance, we are going to have more of the same unfortunately”.
Limerick barrister and local Independent Councillor Emmet O’Brien arrived at the University Sports Arena just minutes after Monday’s shooting for an early morning swim.
“Even at 7am there was a lot of people approaching the gym from the various car parks it’s such a vibrant arena also used by international sporting figures and such a safe area that it’s not something you would associate with any type of crime at all,” said Cllr O’Brien.
“It was a real act of thuggery and criminality and an innocent bystander could have been killed,” he added.
Cllr O’Brien, who is also a member of the Joint Policing Committee, insisted nobody in Limerick wants to return to the “dark old days of violence”.
“In a way the gardaí in Limerick have been a victim of their own success and there is now a feeling at government level that we don’t need Garda replacements in Limerick anymore despite numerous retirements, but this is a warning to us that we can’t be complacent.
“The Garda have done remarkable work in Limerick, it is one of the safest cities in the country because of how effective the gardaí have been but this is certainly a warning that we can’t be complacent about resources.”