The man killed in an apparent ordered hit in a suburban street in Cork’s northside was a well-known dissident republican, Aidan O’Driscoll.
Also known as ‘the Beast’, he was the victim of a previous ‘punishment attack’ three years ago, claimed by the Real IRA.
But it appears that yesterday evening’s shooting in Blackpool was intended to kill the 37-year-old. Gardaí are to investigate reports that he was shot several times on the ground after slumping across the street from where he was first shot on Commons Road.
The callous nature of the shooting in a public street may also fuel fears of a tit-for-tat. However, some gardaí familiar with the dead man’s background believe any retribution might be limited if the killing was part of an internal republican wrangling.
The murder happened at around 4.45pm, after O’Driscoll is believed to have dropped off a van or other vehicle at a local business. Originally from the Ballyvolane area, he is understood to have been living near the area in Blackpool where he was shot yesterday.
He was treated at the scene for over 20 minutes, first on the street where he was found and then in the ambulance. He was then rushed to Cork University Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
A preliminary technical examination of the scene began soon after the ambulance left, with focus on the pavement where he had initially been treated. But investigating gardaí were also checking the road about 20 metres away near the entrance to the Orchard Court estate, where he might first have been hit.
At least two men are believed to have been involved, possibly wearing balaclavas, and two vehicles were later partly burned-out.
One was left at Redemption Road, which runs along higher ground above the Commons Road where the shooting take place, and the other was found at Killeens between Blackpool and Blarney.
Nobody else was injured but locals who gathered near the scene were in shock that something like this could happen on an open street used by many people walking and driving home from work in the city.
Jonathan O’Brien, local Sinn Féin TD and the party’s justice spokesperson, described the shooting in his constituency as a worrying development.
“It’s a tragic event. Nobody wants to see anyone gunned down in the street like this,” he said.
“Gun crime is usually associated with gangland crime in Dublin. There have been few such shootings in Cork in recent years.
“It is a worrying development in this city and while gardaí will investigate the motive, I just hope there will be no reprisals.”
O’Driscoll was convicted in 2005 of membership of the Real IRA, along with four others. He was described at the time by senior gardaí as part of an active service unit of the illegal organisation in Cork City.
Those convictions were quashed in 2008, following the men’s appeals on grounds relating to charges not being brought against them after being held for more than 12 hours.
O’Driscoll had previously been advised by gardaí that his life may be under threat. In June 2013, he was shot in the leg in a punishment-style shooting, later claimed by the Real IRA as having been carried out for his “unrepublican conduct”.
He had been chief of staff of the Real IRA’s southern command up to 2012, before the murder of the organisation’s leading Dublin figure Alan Ryan, and he may have been suspected of stealing money raised from extortion.
Gardaí are appealing for witnesses and anyone with information, particularly those in the vicinity of Commons Road or The Church of the Annunciation, Blackpool between 3.30pm and 5.30pm to contact Mayfield Garda Station on 021 4558510, the Garda Confidential Line 1800 666 111 or any Garda station.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved