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Deadly alliance Fears killer Brian Rattigan may hook up with pal John Gilligan after release

There are fears 'King Ratt' could now team up with a number of criminal factions, writes Ken Foy

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Brian Rattigan was released from Portlaoise prison and picked up by a man driving a Go car.

Brian Rattigan was released from Portlaoise prison and picked up by a man driving a Go car.

Brian Rattigan was released from Portlaoise prison and picked up by a man driving a Go car.

GARDAÍ will closely monitor freed killer Brian Rattigan to determine which, if any, crime organisation the gangland criminal may align himself with.

One theory being looked at is that he may travel to Spain to hook up with his pal John Gilligan - the two men spent almost a decade together in Ireland's highest security prison in Portlaoise.

Gilligan (69) is currently out on bail in Spain as he awaits trial on drugs and firearms charges after being arrested there last year.

Meanwhile, 41-year-old Rattigan has enjoyed his first night of freedom after being locked up since March 2003 for a variety of serious offences including manslaughter, drug dealing, firearms and assault.

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Brian Rattigan released from Portlaoise Prison

Brian Rattigan released from Portlaoise Prison

Brian Rattigan released from Portlaoise Prison

While some senior sources say he is "isolated", others point to the fact he has "pockets of support" in Dublin's south inner city, including in the Basin Street flats area, Inchicore and his native Drimnagh.

He also has close links to the Keane organised crime gang based in Limerick after forming a friendship with drug dealer Christy Keane behind bars.

Rattigan said in a sworn affidavit to the High Court in 2019 that he is a "changed man".

He wants to "lead a law-abiding life upon my release and am committed to never returning to prison", the affidavit read.

However, gardaí remain sceptical. Officers have circulated a list of Rattigan's historical associates but many of them, including his younger brother Joey, were murdered in the bitter Crumlin/Drimnagh feud that claimed at least 15 lives.

When father-of-one Rattigan emerged from Portlaoise Prison at 6.30am yesterday, he wore a necklace with a photo of his brother, who was shot dead in July 2002 as the feud spiralled out of control.

He also has a tattoo of his brother on his chest, and sources say that out of the more than half-a-dozen of his close associates killed in gangland shootings, it is the loss of his brother that had the deepest impact on him.

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"This had a really terrible effect on him," a source told the Herald. "People close to him have said he will never get over it and he certainly went off the rails after it."

One criminal who will not be able to influence the situation in Rattigan's favour is his close associate Wayne McNally (36), who is serving a prison term of at least 10 years in the UK after being found guilty of two counts of grievous bodily harm. He was with Rattigan when the criminal nicknamed 'King Ratt', fired five shots at a patrol car during a garda chase in February 2003.

McNally, who was a passenger in the stolen car, received an 18-month sentence for his part in the incident. Rattigan was handed a four-year term.

"Rattigan still has a criminal network of sorts, which has been the target of a number of garda operations in recent times," a source said.

"It will be up to him now to decide how much he wants to get involved with them."

Notable recent garda successes against the Rattigan network include CAB raids last summer in which more than €66,000 in cash was seized, and a south inner city drugs bust in February in which a large haul of cocaine was discovered.

No gardaí were present when Rattigan emerged from Ireland's highest security prison yesterday wearing a grey suit, a fisherman's hat, white shirt, sunglasses and a black face mask.

Just like Derek 'Del Boy' Hutch, who was released from Wheatfield Prison on Saturday, Rattigan was collected in a black hired GoCar that was driven away at speed from the prison after he got in.

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Brian Rattigan was picked up by a man driving a Go car.

Brian Rattigan was picked up by a man driving a Go car.

Brian Rattigan was picked up by a man driving a Go car.

"The hiring of these cars is turning into a bit of a trend now - it means that getting the registration of the vehicle is of no use to criminal rivals," a source said.

The driver's face was covered with a black snood and he wore a white baseball cap.

It is understood the two men made their way to Dublin.

Rattigan, who has been in prison for most of his adult life, pleaded guilty in October 2018 to killing 21-year-old Declan Gavin, whose fatal stabbing led to the Crumlin/Drimnagh feud.

He had previously been convicted of Mr Gavin's murder, but this was overturned in 2017 and he was jailed for nine years in January 2019 for his manslaughter.

Rattigan was also given a 17-year sentence for organising a €1m heroin deal from his prison cell in Portlaoise in 2008.

During the raid on a house in Walkinstown, gardaí found 5kg of heroin valued at just under €1m, a phone in a shed and €36,000 in cash in a bedroom.

The following day, detectives raided Rattigan's cell, where they found a mobile phone, SIM cards and a notebook containing details of drug deliveries.

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