By Michael Lavery
Thursday January 27 2011
FOUR men have been shot dead in the bloody Sheriff St feud which had its origins in rape allegations in 2003.
Christy Griffin, the head of a major crime gang in the inner city, was accused of raping a young girl over an eight-year period.
The allegations caused a split in the drugs and armed robbery gang with the factions quickly resorting to gun and bomb violence towards rivals.
In October 2005, shots were fired into Griffin's home in Swords, wounding him in the arm. The home of the woman raped by Griffin was later shot at also.
In November 2006, a hand grenade was thrown into Griffin's house and exploded. Another was thrown into a relative's house but failed to go off.
Feud tensions soared to an all-time high as Griffin's trial for rape approached and in December 2006, two men were gunned down and killed.
On December 13, Gerard Batt-Byrne (25), of Ferryman's Cross, Dublin, was shot dead at the International Financial Services Centre on December 13. He was a rival of Griffin.
On December 27, in a revenge attack, Stephen Leddan (28) was shot in the head as he lay on a sofa in a house on Oriel Street.
He is believed to have been shot by mistake by a gunman targeting another man, believed to have been behind Batt-Byrne's murder.
In January 2007, Griffin was convicted of rape and jailed for life, but the feud violence between the factions continued.
The next murder came on April 18, 2008, when Anthony Russell (30), of Cromcastle Drive, Kilmore, was shot dead as he sat drinking with friends in a pub in Artane.
He was suspected of being involved in the murder of Gerard Batt-Byrne.
Last July, Stephen 'Madser' Byrne (32) was murdered by a lone gunman, who rode up to him and shot him twice in broad daylight at St Lawrence O'Toole Place on July 13.
A deal was reportedly struck between the gangs in 2009, but the period of calm broke down in February 2010, following a serious incident between the gangs.
While Griffin's gang fell apart after the rape allegations, some of his closest associates stayed loyal while others broke away to form a rival group.
The two groups refused to sit down together but intermediaries brokered the 2009 deal.
Gardai have tried to find the means to get another ceasefire between the feuding gangs but fear that the animosity is so strong that this would now be impossible.
The heavily armed Emergency Response Unit has frequently been called into the inner city area to carry out raids in a bid to stall further killings.
- Michael Lavery