Parents who saw shot man outside creche 'rushed to protect children'

The scene of today's shooting

A man with dissident republican links and wanted over a double murder was shot in the head outside a creche in Dublin’s latest gangland-style attack, police sources have revealed.

Declan Smith, in his 30s and originally from Belfast and believed to have connections to murdered Real IRA boss Alan Ryan, was gunned down after dropping a little boy at the playschool.

The attack happened in the Donaghmede area of north Dublin when a lone gunman opened fire at about 9am before fleeing on foot.

Smith was rushed to Beaumont Hospital in a critical condition.

A number of parents dropping toddlers off at the Little Rainbow’s creche saw the man lying in the road in a pool of blood and rushed to shelter children from the bloody scene.

The shooting took place on Holywell Avenue, a residential area.

It is understood Smith is wanted by police in the North investigating a gruesome double murder of two men in Belfast in March 2007 which was linked to the Continuity IRA.

The body of Eddie Burns, 36, was found with serious head injuries in the Bog Meadows, close to the M1 motorway in west Belfast. The second victim Joe Jones, 38, was shot in the back of the head in the Ardoyne district where both men lived.

One of the chief suspects later slashed a Co Louth businessman in a bar in Dundalk.

Burns and Jones were murdered by a CIRA gang who were captured on CCTV drinking heavily and taking drugs in bars in the west of the city just hours before the murders.

Eddie Burns was abducted and shot dead by the gang close to the Falls Road while Joe Jones was lured to Elmfield St in Ardoyne where he was badly beaten before being killed with a spade and his body dumped in an entry.

Three men suspected of involvement in the murders fled to the Republic.

The shooting is the latest in an upsurge in gun crime which culminated in drug trafficker and Veronica Guerin murder suspect John Gilligan leaving Ireland in the last week.

His associate Stephen Dougie Moran was shot dead last Saturday in Lucan.

Earlier the same day a mother in her 60s, Mary Dargan, was shot at her home in Tallaght and her daughter Karina was injured in the same attack. The incident was not gang-related and a man was arrested at the scene.

On March 1 gangster Gilligan was shot several times after spending a day celebrating a child’s christening at his brother’s home in Clondalkin. He has since fled Ireland.

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