Kelly, 65, was a senior criminal in Ireland’s underworld and had previously been the target of unsuccessful assassinations, the Associated Press reported.
Tuesday’s killing of Kelly may have been retaliation for when one of the men in the crew of the Godfather killed Real IRA member Alan Ryan two months ago, authorities told the AP.
The Real IRA is a faction of the Irish Republican Army paramilitary group. The group occasionally uses bombs in Northern Ireland, which is held by Britain. Military-style attacks are not seen in the southern portion of Ireland, where the IRA mostly engages in criminal rackets, including fuel and cigarette smuggling, according to the AP.
Kelly’s group and the Real IRA have butted heads over the paramilitary group demanding profits from Kelly’s drug-trafficking operation in exchange for mercy from the Real IRA, the AP reported.
Kelly was shot close to his home six times. He was taken to Beaumont Hospital where he died of his injuries, according to Sky News.
An associate of Ryan, only identified as a 32-year-old from south Dublin, was arrested near the scene where the Godfather was shot, the UK television network reported.
The suspect was arrested before for being a Real IRA member and was questioned in a number of shootings and bombing attacks in Ireland, according to Sky News.
Kelly served 14 years in prison in the 1990s for cocaine possession. He was said to be a close associate of Irish gang leader Eamonn “the Don” Dunne, who was murdered in a north Dublin pub in 2010, the Belfast Telegraph reported.
The Godfather started his life of crime in the 1980s, when he committed armed robberies for the Official IRA in the 1980s, the paper reported. Proceeds from the robberies were used to raise money for the paramilitary group.
Kelly escaped death in 2010 when a Real IRA member tried to shoot him outside his home, but the gun jammed, the AP reported.
The would-be gunman caught up with Kelly later that day and put the gun to Kelly’s head when it jammed again, according to the AP.
A detective working the murder of the Godfather said authorities believe a two-man hit team was responsible for Kelly’s death, the AP reported.
One of the hitmen shot Kelly in the back and head, while the other drove the getaway car. A police chase ensued, and the suspects ditched the car, but authorities were able to apprehend one of them, according to the AP.