The exhumation of the body of former Councillor Michael Kelly was completed in Limerick city tonight.
The coffin did not contain the gun used to kill the 48-year-old, who died in hospital in June from gunshot wounds sustained a month earlier.
A Garda spokesman said that when a member of the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation checked the coffin, there was ‘absolutely nothing’ suspicious present.
The Southill parish priest, Father Tommy Carroll said prayers as the coffin was reinterred shortly before 7pm.
He added later: “It is over and done now. The Kelly family are very upset.”
The family had obtained the exhumation licence for the exhumation from Limerick City Council.
A plastic screen was put around the scene in Mount St Oliver Cemetery under the supervision of gardaí and an environmental health officer from the Midwestern Health Board.
The result of the exhumation is a major embarrassment to the Star on Sunday newspaper, which yesterday published the claim that the gun used to shoot Mr Kelly had been buried in the coffin.
Speaking on RTÉ radio earlier, Michael Kelly’s brother, Anthony said the exhumation had been carried out to disprove the story.
“We don’t want to live for years with people saying there’s a gun in the coffin. We feel we have to do it for the family,” he said.
Mr Kelly was shot at his mother’s house in Southill, Limerick, in May, but the weapon has not been found.
The family has dismissed reports that he took his own life.
Anthony Kelly said he and two members of his family had been arrested last week as part of the Garda investigation into the death.
No charges were brought but a file has been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Mr Kelly called for a public inquiry into the Garda treatment of his family.
He said: “This new (Garda) ombudsman, when he comes in, he might do something for us.”
An earlier attempt by the Kelly family to dig up the body at a cemetery in Limerick city today was called off after gardaí intervened.
Locals alerted them when the Kelly family arrived at Mount St Oliver Cemetery with shovels and a mechanical digger.
The family had dug down to a depth of four feet by the time they were stopped.
Inspector Gerry McNamara said: “We talked to them and made them aware of the law in this matter.”
Mr Kelly, who was born in Southill in Limerick had a long history of criminal activity in the city. He spent 12 years in prison before setting up a successful security company with his brother Anthony.
He won a seat on Limerick City Council in the 1999 local elections but did not stand for re-election.
He survived a gun attack in 2002 when was shot twice on the doorstep of his home and then became the subject of an investigation by the Criminal Assets Bureau.
In March 2003, he was sentenced to eight months in jail – later reduced to six months- after he was convicted of tax and social welfare charges.
He featured in a 1995 RTÉ documentary about his life, called The Hard Man.