Saturday, 14 March 2009

Gunman kills top criminal in gang war hit

Gunman kills top criminal in gang war hit
Shooting sparks fear of tit-for-tat attacks

By Fiach Kelly, Grainne Cunningham and Fergus Black

Saturday March 14 2009

A MAN was shot dead and his girlfriend was injured in west Dublin last night in a major escalation of a long-running gangland feud.

The latest victim was the second in command of one of the main criminal gangs in the country.

He was shot three times in the back in the driveway of a house in Tymon North, Tallaght, as he was confronted by a gunman in the long-running Crumlin/Drimnagh feud.

The 27-year-old was named locally last night as Shay Byrne, originally from the Long Mile Road area.

There were fears his murder would lead to more tit-for-tat killings between the Drimnagh and Crumlin factions in their war over control of drugs and criminality.

Gardai last year smothered an outbreak of violence between the gangs by intensive patrolling and intelligence-led operations.

Last night's killing brings to eight the number of people gunned down in gangland shootings so far this year.

Mr Byrne's girlfriend, Sharon Rattigan (26), was hit once in the foot but her injuries are not thought to be life threatening.

She was taken to Tallaght hospital for treatment.

The killing, which took place at Tymon North Park at about 8.30pm, is the latest in the long-running Crumlin/Drimnagh feud, which has claimed 13 lives in the past nine years.

Last night, gardai confirmed that the dead man, understood to be the right-hand man of one of the gang leaders, died in the driveway of the home he had moved into with Ms Rattigan recently

In a chilling twist to the ongoing violence, there were unconfirmed reports that the injured woman was holding an infant in her arms when the gunman struck. However, the baby is not believed to have suffered any harm.

Local people also said they believed that Ms Rattigan had been struck with a pistol by the gunman before being shot.

Distraught relatives arrived at the scene, where the body of the murdered man lay covered by a sheet in the front garden to await the arrival of State Pathologist, Prof Marie Cassidy.

The area was cordoned off as a garda forensics team began an examination of the area and house to house inquiries. Witnesses described seeing envelopes containing money scattered around the driveway of the house.


Gardai immediately appealed to the public for information and asked anyone who may have been in the area at the time of the shooting to contact Tallaght garda station on 01 666-6000.

Last night's murder is the eighth gangland killing so far this year. The last victim, Michael Murray, was gunned down outside his daughter's house in Finglas just 10 days ago.

The 41-year-old, believed to have been killed in a tit-for-tat shooting, had previously been injured as part of a separate feud between rival gangs in west Dublin.

Despite the sharp fall in violent deaths last year to 52, gangland killings have moved in the opposite direction, with a rise from 12 in 2007 to 19 in 2008.

The two factions involved in the bitter Crumlin/Drimnagh had been relatively quiet since Christmas, apart from the planting of a viable pipe bomb underneath a car in Crumlin in January.

In a separate episode in the ongoing battle, in January last year, the notorious crime figure Martin Foley, known as The Viper, survived being shot eight times and named the man who attempted to kill him as he was being taken to hospital.

Foley, then 57, was shot with a high-powered pistol as he exited the Carlisle health and fitness club at Lower Kimmage Road.

- Fiach Kelly, Grainne Cunningham and Fergus Black

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