The man shot dead at a Limerick petrol station early this morning was the brother of a high-profile state witness, it has emerged.
Daniel Treacy, 35, was murdered in a dawn ambush as he bought a cup of coffee at a filling station on the outskirts of the city.
A 29-year-old man was arrested within hours of the attack and senior gardaí said they expected to quickly detain a second man.
Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy said he was confident those behind the killing would be brought to justice, but warned: “The reality of life in this country, in certain areas, is that there are people prepared to do this regardless of what legislation is in place.”
Mr Treacy was shot at point-blank range inside the Topaz shop on Ennis Road about three miles from the city.
One shop worker was inside at the time and it is understood the gunman was caught on CCTV.
Mr Treacy’s state witness brother Owen was key to the successful prosecution of five gangsters for the murder of his uncle, crime boss Kieran Keane. He was tortured before being shot execution-style in the 2003 attack while Owen Treacy escaped despite suffering 17 stab wounds.
Since the high-profile case some of the Treacy family, including Daniel’s father Philly, have had 24-hour armed garda protection.
A younger brother, Richard, was jailed for killing Darren Coughlan near Limerick IT in 2005. He died from head injuries after being kicked and beaten after being mistaken for another man.
Gardai said they were keeping an open mind on the motive for the petrol station killing but senior detectives have linked Mr Treacy’s death to the Coughlan death.
It is the second gun murder in the past 72 hours and the eighth this year.
Mr Treacy was covering his father’s bread round when he was shot dead.
City councillor John Gilligan said the family was one of the most decent and hard working in the city.
“Daniel was a hard working young man,” said the former mayor.
“He was out at 4am delivering bread and as far as I know he’s never been in any trouble with anybody.”
Mr Gilligan revealed the Treacys’ lives have been ruined since the Keane murder trial.
“They have suffered tremendously over the last number of years,” he continued.
“His father is still going around with two armed gardaí following his bread van every day, everywhere he works.”
Jan O’Sullivan, Labour TD for Limerick East, said there were concerns the murder would reignite tit-for-tat killings among the city’s notorious gangs.
“Limerick gardaí have been particularly successful when it comes to homicide detection rates, so I would be reasonably optimistic that the perpetrator of this dreadful crime will be brought to justice,” she said.
“However, I would be fearful that thanks to the crisis in Government finances, the resources that gardaí need, both to keep a lid on the local feud and to get to the bottom of this particular crime, are now under threat.”
Charlie Flanagan, Fine Gael justice spokesman, warned if the killing rate continued 2010 would be the bloodiest year on record.
“If this trend was to continue, Ireland would be in for its bloodiest year ever,” Mr Flanagan said.
“The Gardai have performed brilliantly in dealing with the scourge of gangland crime given the personnel resources at their disposal.”