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The Ratt' gill-er Gangland killer Brian Rattigan teams up with John Gilligan on Spain's Costa Blanca

Rattigan was seen enjoying a night out with the veteran gang boss - who is currently on bail for drug-trafficking offences - near Gilligan's Costa Blanca home

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We snapped John Gilligan near his Costa Blanca home.

We snapped John Gilligan near his Costa Blanca home.

We snapped John Gilligan near his Costa Blanca home.

Gangland killer Brian Rattigan has been spotted socialising with John Gilligan near Torrevieja on Spain's Costa Blanca.

Rattigan was seen enjoying a night out with the veteran gang boss - who is currently on bail for drug-trafficking offences - near Gilligan's Costa Blanca home.

The pair struck up a friendship while serving time in Portlaoise Prison, where they shared a wing for a number of years.

The Sunday World carried out two days of surveillance on Gilligan's luxury villa but while there was no sign of Rattigan, we photographed the 'Little General' (69) as he went shopping in a local supermarket and watched as the former mob boss made his way to a local pub.

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John Gilligan was spotted at a garage.

John Gilligan was spotted at a garage.

John Gilligan was spotted at a garage.

 

But the paranoid gangster decided not to go into the boozer after spotting our photographer and was driven away at high speed from the scene by his girlfriend before disappearing down a side street.

It is understood the couple who looked "very content with each other" throughout the surveillance operation had been planning to have lunch in the pub, which is owned by the former partner of Gilligan's daughter Treacy.

Gilligan, who is suspected of ordering the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin in 1996, looked relaxed as he strolled around in the Spanish sunshine in a white shirt and wearing a face mask.

He spent a lot of his time with his English girlfriend who drives him around the resort in a grey English-reg Range Rover.

Rattigan (41) left Ireland on a ferry to the UK less than a week after his release from Portlaoise Prison and has not returned since.

He is also a man without major criminal back-up as most of his closest associates have been murdered, including his beloved brother Joey, and many others are out of the organised crime game - but he still has pockets of support.

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John Gilligan with his girlfriend’s Range Rover.

John Gilligan with his girlfriend’s Range Rover.

John Gilligan with his girlfriend’s Range Rover.

 

Senior sources say Rattigan has been in the Netherlands and Spain since he left Ireland and gardaí suspect that he still has plans to get involved in the drugs trade despite his claims that he is a changed man.

"Rattigan and Gilligan have been seen socialising in the Costa Blanca," a senior source told the Sunday World.

"It is hard to know what to properly make of this - Gilligan is down on his luck and many modern, younger criminals consider him something of a hapless fool.

"As for Rattigan, there is a feeling that he certainly needed head space and maybe felt that he would be harassed by the media and gardaí if he was based in Dublin after spending so long in jail.

"There is no information that Gilligan and Rattigan are new business partners or anything like that and if he needs to source drugs Rattigan will have little choice but to get them from the Kinahan cartel who, of course, his mortal enemy Freddie Thompson worked for.

"John Gilligan certainly is not top of any drug trafficking tree any more and has very little influence on the scene here in Ireland.

"In a different era Rattigan would have been under huge death threat from the cartel, but that is not the case any more and the feeling is that they would do business with him if he required - they are also an organisation under severe pressure and cash hungry," the source explained.

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Rattigan left Ireland.

Rattigan left Ireland.

Rattigan left Ireland.

 

Gilligan is facing another potential hefty prison sentence if he is convicted as part of his alleged role in a Spanish police probe opened into alleged public health crimes, unlawful possession of firearms and membership of a criminal gang.

He was arrested as part of this investigation with five other suspects last October before being released on bail in December.

All six are currently classified as 'investigados' under Spanish law, which means simply that they are under formal investigation.

Gilligan has had to surrender his passport and sign on every fortnight as part of his bail conditions while he lives in his villa, which is estimated to be worth up to €700,000.

Last October's arrest operation in Spain dealt a hammer blow to the mobster's attempt to reassert himself as a player in serious organised crime in Ireland.

Gilligan is suspected of supplying a number of gangs, including associates of the so-called Finglas based 'Monkey gang', with quantities of cannabis herb through the postal system.

His son Darren, who still lives with him in Spain, is a suspect in the operation.

"You are talking about quantities of weed not on the biggest scale. Amounts up to 15 kilos or so but the operation was getting bigger all the time," a senior source said at the time.

"Gilligan always had a very close relationship with Traveller gangs - after all, they put him up in the UK back in 2014 when he had to flee the country after he was shot multiple times at his brother's home in Clondalkin.

"The cannabis herb that was being sent to the Traveller crime organisations in Dublin from Spain was then being distributed among other Traveller gangs across the entire country especially in the midlands," the source added.

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Brian Rattigan leaves Portlaoise Prison.

Brian Rattigan leaves Portlaoise Prison.

Brian Rattigan leaves Portlaoise Prison.

 

This "small-time" network has now been shut down, according to sources.

Gilligan's 2020 drug-dealing network was certainly a far cry from his operations in the mid-1990s, which brought him to the attention of crusading journalist Veronica Guerin when he was importing tonnes of cannabis via Cork Port.

The crime reporter paid the ultimate price for attempting to expose Gilligan's gang when she was shot dead on June 26, 1996.

Gilligan was cleared of masterminding Ms Guerin's murder in March 2001 after a 43-day trial but was handed a 28-year prison sentence for importing a huge haul of cannabis resin. He built up a friendship with notorious criminal Brian Rattigan while both men spent almost a decade together in Portlaoise Prison.

Rattigan, formerly of Cooley Road in Drimnagh, was in prison for most of his adult life and pleaded guilty in October 2018 to killing 21-year-old Declan Gavin - a fatal stabbing that led to the Crumlin/Drimnagh feud and at least 15 murders.

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

Father-of-one Rattigan has also served separate sentences for serious drugs, firearms and assault convictions. In 2013, he was also given a 17-year-sentence for organising a €1million heroin deal from his jail cell in Portlaoise Prison.

That sentence was backdated to the time gardaí made the huge bust in June, 2008.

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