That has already beaten last year’s tally of 21 such crimes, and has prompted fears of retaliatory shootings which Fine Gael Justice spokesman Jim O’Keeffe said could lead to a bloodbath.
There have been 60 violent deaths this year, although the figure is provisional and not all are murders.
However, it is the rate of gangland killings that has caused most alarm. In 2002, the figure for gangland killings stood at eight — the following year it jumped to 15, and the trend has continued. Meanwhile, of 113 gun deaths since 1998 (up to November 2 last), prosecutions have only been taken in 19 cases.
The latest victim is Martin ‘Marlo’ Hyland, understood to have been one of the major players in the drugs trade here.
He owned a home in Kentstown in Co Meath and also had addresses in Kippure Park in Finglas and the family home in St Attracta’s Road in Cabra.
Yet despite his drugs empire, Hyland spent little time behind bars. It is thought he had about 40 convictions, but mostly for minor offences.
In 2000 — by which time he had garnered 35 convictions, mostly for road traffic offences — he was jailed for three months at Dublin District Court.
The court heard he had pretended he was someone else when stopped by a garda while driving his car without insurance at Hazelcroft Road, Finglas.
Up until recent years he was involved in a number of armed robberies, but with increased garda emphasis on armed raids, Hyland switched his attention to drug smuggling.
In dealing in heroin and cocaine, his armed gang were involved in several violent incidents. Hyland was suspected of arranging the murder of a rival dealer in Finglas in May, while in recent weeks it is understood gardaí foiled an assassination attempt on one of his associates.
At the head of a 30-strong gang, Hyland had associates that were known INLA and IRA figures in north Dublin.
However, in recent months his empire fell foul of the gardaí’s Operation Oak, aimed specifically at organised criminal gangs.
A senior garda source confirmed that Operation Oak was intent on smashing his drug business.
“He was a very significant player. He was involved in some of the most significant seizures of cocaine and cannabis resin in the State over the past two years.”
It was also suggested that his gang was involved in the recent murder of 26-year-old Paul Reay in Drogheda, and the death of Paddy Harte in Coolock in Dublin last May.
Several searches were carried out at Hyland’s home and various premises he used over the past few months.
Gardaí were duty bound to inform him on December 7 last that there was a very real threat to his life and he should take steps to avoid assassination.
It is understood he moved into his relative’s house in Scribblestown Park in Finglas in recent days, only for him to fall victim to the rising spate of gun murders yesterday.