Notorious gangster John Gilligan has fled Ireland after his release from hospital following an attempt on his life.

The gangster believed to be responsible for ordering the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin left the country on Sunday night.

Gilligan was given an armed escort by detectives as he made his way from Blanchardstown hospital to Dublin port where he boarded a ferry.

The Irish Independent is reporting that Gilligan travelled on to Birmingham in England but plans to hide out in Amsterdam.

The paper reports that he told ‘I have to get out of here’ before demanding to be taken from his hospital bed to the ferry.

The report adds that the injured 62-year-old refused to tell detectives of his next move as he boarded the 2.15am boat to Holyhead.

He is understood to be staying with relatives in Birmingham before he plans his next move.

Gilligan only opted to leave Ireland after the murder of his minder and driver Stephen Moran on Saturday night.

Sources told the paper that Gilligan finally accepted that he was in real danger after Moran was murdered in a gun attack.

A source told the Irish Independent: “Even after he was shot himself Gilligan remained defiant that he was in control of his situation, but he was very shaken by Moran’s murder. Within hours he was planning an escape.”

The former gang boss was escorted by armed detectives to Dublin Port where he boarded a ferry.

The source added: “He had talked about using a wig as a disguise but in the end it was decided that a quick exit was the best option. He was genuinely scared. It was the first time he has shown fear.

“Gilligan had always intended to make a statement to his attackers by walking out of hospital with the same bravado that he has displayed since his release from prison; but after Moran’s shooting he couldn’t get out quickly enough.

“He told gardai (police) and his relatives ‘I have to get out of here’.”

The Irish Independent says Gilligan looked gaunt as he was wheeled from James Connolly Memorial Hospital. He was dressed in a black jacket and tracksuit bottoms and was wearing a black flat cap. There was visible bruising on his face where one bullet had grazed his head.