By Cormac Looney
Friday January 23 2009
ARMED patrols have been increased in the Dublin's north inner city after officers foiled the latest hit in the bloody Sheriff Street feud.
Two men remained in custody today after their arrest near the Clonshaugh home of Dean Russell (39), whose younger brother Anthony was shot dead in a pub in Artane last April.
Gardai believe that taxi driver Russell was the intended target of two men arrested in possession of a loaded Magnum pistol at Riverside Park in Clonshaugh last Wednesday evening.
Unarmed gardai detained the men after a call that the pair were acting suspiciously in a parked car close to Russell's home at 10.20pm last week. They broke the windows of the stolen Audi A5 and detained one of the men as he reached for the gun. The second man was arrested at a house nearby.
The officers may be decorated for their bravery, sources say, adding that the father-of-three, who has ten previous convictions for assault, possession of drugs and being accessory to an armed robbery was minutes away from being attacked. The arrested men are believed to be linked to a group from the north inner city suspected of involvement in the murder of Anthony Russell (30) in the Ardlea Inn pub on April 18, 2008.
That attack was linked to an ongoing feud, which developed after armed robber Christopher Griffin was charged with sxually assaulting a young woman. He was later convicted and is serving a life sentence.
As Griffin's gang splintered tit for tat attacks occurred, which led to the murder of Gerard "Batt" Byrne (26) in the IFSC on December 13, 2006. Anthony Russell was suspected of involvement in that murder.
The Byrne murder was followed by the killing of Stephen Ledden (28), who was shot dead two weeks later, at Oriel Street, in an apparent retaliation for the Byrne murder. This was followed last April by the murder of Anthony Russell in Artane.
Since then, there has been a fall-off in feud-related incidents, mainly due to garda action.
A source said today: "We've had a constant presence in the wider Sheriff Street area for over two years and extra patrols have been sent there since the Clonshaugh incident, to prevent any further violence. The intended target in Clonshaugh was very lucky. There's no doubt that the guards saved his life."
The arrested men are 18 and 22. One was questioned about the murder of Gavin McCarthy on Sheriff Street last October. That killing was not directly related to the feud.