A Real IRA man previously punished for ‘unrepublican’ conduct

Aidan O’Driscoll managed to overturn Special Criminal Court conviction for IRA membership in 2008

The shooting dead of Aidan 'The Beast' O'Driscoll in Blackpool in Cork on Wednesday, less than two kilometres from his family home at Glenview Heights in Ballyvolane, brought to an abrupt and violent end the life of one of the most senior figures in the Real IRA in Munster.

Originally seen as primarily an enforcer, O’Driscoll (37) “jumped up the ranks”, according to one garda source, and he was appointed Real IRA chief-of- staff by the Northern command around 2011 due to turmoil and disarray in the organisation in Dublin.

However O'Driscoll, one of a family of four, was kicked out of the organisation by his former associate Alan Ryan whom he befriended while serving a sentence in Portlaoise after another member of the group was convicted of extortion in 2012.

The end of O'Driscoll's tenure at the helm of the Real IRA was announced by the 32 County Sovereignty Movement in 2013 when it declared that he had been stood down for "unrepublican conduct", which gardaí believe was a reference to pocketing funds and he returned to Cork.


O'Driscoll's family background wasn't particularly republican but he soon made a name for himself within dissident republicanism in Cork and he came to public attention in 2005 when he was convicted of membership of the Real IRA at the Special Criminal Court and jailed for three years.

After his convictions along with four others, Det Supt Tony Quilter of Anglesea Street Garda Station told the court that O'Driscoll and two of the others from Cork, Gerard Varian from Fair Hill and John Murphy from Old Mallow Road were an active service unit based on Leeside

But O’Driscoll and his co-accused appealed their convictions and in May 2008, the Court of Criminal Appeal quashed all convictions, ruling that the Special Criminal Court did not have the jurisdiction to try the five because they were not charged “forthwith” or “immediately”.

The Court of Criminal Appeal accepted arguments made by lawyers for the five defendants that their convictions should be quashed because of the failure of gardaí to charge them “forthwith” as required under the provisions of Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act.

While O’Driscoll was fortunate to overturn that conviction, he was less fortunate with some of his Real IRA comrades after he was stood down for “unrepublican conduct” when he received a visit from some other members of the organisation in 2013.

He was shot in the legs in a punishment type shooting which some gardaí believe was carried out by arrangement. They believed O’Driscoll knew he was going to be shot and after he went to Cork University Hospital for treatment. He made no complaint to gardaí.

In 2015, gardai were again seeking to speak to O'Driscoll but on this occasion as a suspect rather than as a victim of crime when he was arrested and questioned about the brutal assault of a member of the Traveller community in Limerick in what gardaí believe was an extortion racket.

The man, a trader from Rathkeale had been lured to a meeting at a house in Limerick where a gang of men forced him into a chair before using a nail gun to staple his feet to the floor and left him there in agony before he managed to free himself and escape.

O’Driscoll - who earned his nickname “The Beast” when playing Gaelic football in his youth for his local Delaneys GAA club in Cork- was arrested and questioned by gardaí but he denied any involvement in the nail gun attack and was never charged in relation to it.

A father of two young children who live with their mother in Dublin, O’Driscoll, who worked as a painter and decorator around Cork, had recently become engaged and was due to get married in the New Year.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times