Feud claims fifth victim after man shot dead

A DEADLY gang feud in Dublin’s north inner city claimed its fifth life yesterday when a man was gunned down on a street in broad daylight.

Stephen “Madser” Byrne, 32, is thought to have been related to two other men who have been murdered as part of the vicious feud. Gardaí suspect Stephen Byrne was killed in a revenge attack for another murder.

It’s not the first tragedy to hit Stephen Byrne’s family. His brother, David Byrne, 26, was fatally assaulted in Mountjoy Prison in June 2009 in a non-feud related attack. It brings to 18 the number of fatal shootings this year, up to 14 of which are considered by gardaí to be gangland murders.

The feud erupted some six years ago when Christy Griffin, the leader of a major criminal gang, was accused of abusing his partner’s daughter. The abuse split the gang, with rival blocks turning on each other.

Griffin, of Canon Lillis Avenue, in the north inner city, was eventually convicted in 2007 of rape and given a life sentence, which he appealed unsuccessfully .

Stephen Byrne was shot on a street corner, not far from his home on Sheriff Street in the north inner city just, before 5pm. He was shot twice, once in the head and chest. He was taken to the nearby Mater Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at around 5.30pm.

Gardaí suspect a lone gunman was involved, with unconfirmed reports that he may have escaped on a bicycle. A second individual may also have been involved as a scout. The area was immediately sealed off, pending a forensic and ballistic examination. The State Pathologist’s Office was also informed.

Garda sources said they had warned the victim his life was in danger, particularly following the murder of Stephen Ledden in 2006, for which Stephen Byrne was a suspect. Detectives suspect his death may have been in retaliation for that.

“He was regarded as a dead man walking after that. He had been warned by us,” said a garda source.

Stephen Byrne was associated with the gang feuding with the Griffin block and was known by gardaí to be involved in serious crime, including armed robbery and firearms offences.

The feud has escalated this year, with the latest murder coming less than six months after the shooting dead of Aiden Byrne. The 33-year-old, from St Mary’s Mansions flats complex in the north inner city, was shot dead at Drumalee Avenue, off North Circular Road, on February 20. Stephen Byrne is thought to have been related to him.

Stephen Byrne was a first cousin to the first murder victim of the feud: that of Gerard “Batt” Byrne, 25, who was shot dead near the IFSC on December 13 2006. Two weeks after that murder, on December 27, in a revenge attack, Ledden, 28, was shot dead in a house of Oriel Street, in the north inner city.

The next murder came in April 18, 2008, when Anthony Russell, an associate of Griffin’s was shot dead in a pub in Artane, north Dublin. The 30-year-old was suspected of involvement in the Gerard Byrne murder.


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