Detectives investigating the attempted double murder of two members of the Travelling community have established that a crime gang carried out the botched shooting on behalf of another Traveller family for a large sum.

Uncle and nephew Anthony McDonagh (45) and Kieran McDonagh (26) had a lucky escape when they came under fire as they sat in their white Ford van after being stopped at what they thought were council roadworks in Finglas in west Dublin on Thursday. The man standing in the road, who was wearing a high-visibility vest, walked over to the van and produced a 9mm handgun. He began firing, hitting Anthony McDonagh in the side and chest. His nephew managed to get out of the van and tried to run to safety but he was shot in the shoulder.

In 2008, a member of the McDonagh family gave evidence in the UK at the murder trial of another member of the Travelling community. This man told the court that there was a "price on his head" and that he had been threatened with being shot because he was appearing as a prosecution witness. The other Traveller was subsequently found guilty of murder. Members of this man's family then put out a contract on the life of Anthony McDonagh in retaliation for his relative giving evidence. The two families are involved in a long-standing feud. A Finglas-based crime gang, once headed by recently murdered crime boss Eamon 'The Don' Dunne, bought the contract to carry out the murder. It is believed the gang were paid in the region of €40,000.

The past 20 days have been particularly bloody for gangland murders. In total four men have been murdered, beginning with the double killing of brothers Paul and Kenneth Corbally in Clondalkin on 28 June.