Gardai investigating the murder of the south Dublin criminal Seamus "Shavo" Hogan, said yesterday they still had an open mind as to who might be responsible.
It is understood Hogan had rows with both criminals and paramilitaries, including the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) and the IRA. Detectives involved in the investigation reported Hogan had many enemies.
Hogan was involved in a running feud with another criminal who he had once been close to when they were both armed robbers in the 1970s and 1980s. Members of Hogan's gang tried to kill this man two years ago and two attempts were made on Hogan's life in 1999.
Hogan was regarded in the underworld as a Garda informant and had been attacked previously because of this.
Sources close to the investigation said Hogan was an easy target as he went for a drink to the Transport Club off Clogher Road in Crumlin at about the same time every Saturday night. The killing was recorded on closed-circuit cameras outside the club, but the gunmen and the getaway driver all wore masks.
He was shot dead as he arrived in his car at the club with his wife, Lily. As he pulled up, two gunmen approached the car, one armed with a shotgun and the other with a handgun.
The man with the shotgun blasted the car windscreen and the man with the handgun then shot Hogan at close range. Mrs Hogan was uninjured.
The murder was described as "professional" and this has led to speculation that it might have been carried out by the IRA. The stolen black Mazda 323 car used by the assassins was later found abandoned a short distance away. Hogan (48), of Balfe Place, Walkinstown, was a criminal for most of his life and served six years for possession of firearms after an incident in west Dublin in 1988 when he fired shots at gardai pursuing him. He was a member of the gang led by Martin Cahill, who was shot dead in August 1994.
Gardai are investigating the possibility of IRA involvement because they had previously discovered evidence that he and another former associate, Martin Foley, were on an assassination list drawn up by the IRA in Dublin. This list was found in the inner-city flat of a member of Sinn Fein who is said to be close to the head of the IRA in Dublin and to a senior Sinn Fein figure in the city.
In the past 18 months the IRA has shot dead three or four figures suspected of involvement in crime or drugs in the Dublin and Border areas. On February 9th this year they shot dead Ciaran Smith (39) in Co Meath; on September 19th last year they shot dead Nicky O'Hare (35) in Dundalk; on April 30th last year they shot dead minor drug dealer Thomas Byrne (41) in Sheriff Street, Dublin; and on February 26th last year they shot dead Joseph Foran (38) in Finglas.
In Northern Ireland, the IRA has shot dead around 13 people since the signing of the Belfast Agreement at Easter 1998. Of these, seven were suspected drug dealers.