'Viper' hit sparks fears of gang feud
Doctors say Foley's fitness saved his life after an eight-bullet attack
By Tom Brady Security Editor
Monday January 28 2008
Gardai fear the weekend attempt to murder notorious Dublin crime figure Martin Foley will re-ignite a deadly gang feud in the capital.
Last night, the criminal known as The Viper was on the road to recovery despite being shot eight times.
Doctors believe his fitness saved his life.
Foley was still in a critical condition in St James' Hospital, but medical staff said his condition had improved dramatically since Saturday and his life was no longer at risk.
At the centre of the garda investigation is a young criminal who is a member of a well-known family, originally from the south inner city.
Foley named the man as his would-be killer as he was being ferried to hospital on Saturday afternoon after the shooting outside the Carlisle health and fitness club at Lower Kimmage Road.
Gardai yesterday recovered what they believe to be the weapon used in the attack, as well as other items, including clothing. The gunman pumped eight shots -- not six as was reported in several Sunday papers -- from a high-powered pistol into Foley as he attempted to make his escape in his Audi car.
The 57-year-old victim was hit in the shoulder, arm, wrist, hand, twice in his lower back, and his thigh, while one shot grazed his skull as he frantically tried to get away from his attacker. Two other shots missed the target. The car spun out of control as the badly wounded Foley attempted to flee and ended up in a nearby garden.
The gunman and an accomplice made their getaway in a white Ford van, which was found abandoned at Wainsfort Road in Terenure. Gardai found the weapon in the van.
The attackers attempted to set fire to the van but did not succeed in their panic to get away and senior garda officers believe that a detailed forensic examination will provide vital clues to the identity of the gang.
Although Foley named the gunman, detectives are also following up several other lines of inquiry on the identity of his attackers.
They are investigating one theory that the "hit" was ordered by the leader of one of the gangs involved in the brutal Crumlin-Drimnagh feud that has already claimed eight lives.
This could result in retaliation by associates in the opposing faction. The two groups fell out over the garda seizure of a drugs haul in a hotel in Pearse Street in the centre of the city.
But they are also examining the possibility that the shooting was linked to Foley's activity as a debt collector on the south and west side of the city.
A number of leading crime figures are known to have sold on their debts to other gangland players and this has turned the interaction between the gangs into a highly complicated web.
Detectives are also looking at a possible link between Saturday's shooting and the murder of Walkinstown car dealer and underworld "fixer", Brian Downes, who was shot dead outside his garage late last year.
And they are also anxious to establish if there could be a connection with a recent shooting incident in Clondalkin in which nobody was hurt.
Meanwhile, it was learned last night that the garda authorities are planning to beef up the organised crime unit, which has been highly successful since it was established in 2006.
It is intended the unit should be placed on a permanent basis -- at present it is comprised of a number of detectives seconded from other squads.
- Tom Brady Security Editor