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PJ Browne: Gardai must rattle the hoods to protect locals

If it is found that Aidan Byrne's murder is linked to the Sheriff Street feud his will be the fourth life claimed by this north inner city dispute.

The two factions in the Sheriff Street area once worked together, cooperating with the IRA commander in the locality who 'authorised' the stealing of goods which were were of a large monetary value from the docks of Dublin Port.

This manifested itself by cooperation from some rogue workers tipping off robbers about the contents of certain containers, some of the monies accruing going to the IRA. A number of local criminals 'earned their stripes' under this system of theft.

Subsequently, Christy Griffin, one of these local hoods, raped his partner's daughter and following his 2007 trial he was convicted and sentenced. This serious criminal will thankfully stay behind bars for a long time. But his charge and conviction led to a falling out between the two groups, which led to murder.

The continuation and seriousness of this dispute is compounded by the number of rival factions within the two feuding gangs, along with a paramilitary aspect, and local interfamily conflicts.

Like all gangland disputes, it is exacerbated by rising criminals who deem themselves suitable to take over the turf of those in prison -- or more likely dead.

There has now been a tit-for-tat series of murders in the north inner city, much to the horror and disgust of residents.

One of those murdered is Gerard 'Batt' Byrne, reportedly a relative of Aidan Byrne. The fact that two men from the same family could both be shot dead indicates how close and local this feud is.

These gangsters often do not realise, or lack the intelligence to understand, that being a warlord is like putting yourself on a platform for some other thug to take on, so he can say "Now I'm the boss".

When it comes to policing this feud, there are some wily old and young officers in Store Street Garda Station who will not be found wanting. Priority policing in the locality is to engage the local community in word and action. Talk to everybody from a young child to the most senior citizen seeking advice and help.

The next issue is to maintain a large armed presence in the locality, and stop and search on a systematic basis. Do not allow these thugs space to move, even if that means driving to their pal's house around the corner.

Remember, the gangs have to be lucky all of the time but the gardai need only be lucky once to put the same thugs away for a long time.

Another ploy will be the gathering of good intelligence, using well planned operations and seeking the help of national units to back up the local force.

I'd suggest a dedicated system of stop, search and detain on every possible occasion. Let the hoods complain if they want to, as long as the gardai are within the law we should not worry at all.

Rattle the wrongdoers and get the good people on your side.

PJ Browne is a former detective superintendent with 30 years experience battling serious crime


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