THE FAMILIES at the centre of a bloody gangland feud that has already claimed the lives of two men vowed last night that there would ‘never be peace’ between them.
They dismissed calls for negotiators to be sent in to help forge a peace between the two sides who are caught in a vicious tit-for-tat battle that started four years ago with the arrest of notorious Dublin drug dealer Christopher Griffin.
He was accused of sexually assaulting and raping his partner’s young daughter, who told gardaÌ in 2003 that he had been abusing her from the age of eight.
On Tuesday, he was finally sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty on 11 counts of rape and sexual assault against her between 1993 and 2001.
Community leaders have been calling for calm ever since and even want Bertie Ahern – whose Dublin Central constituency covers the area where the warring sides live – to bring in trained mediators.
As well as the deaths of Gerard ‘Batt’ Byrne and Stephen Ledden, the murderous feud has led to several unsuccessful gun and grenade attacks against Griffin, his associates and supporters of his victim.
More bloodshed has only been averted thanks to the near-constant presence of armed Garda patrols and checkpoints. But friends of the woman, now aged 21, said last night: ‘Mediation won’t work. There will never be peace between the two sides.
‘We hate them, they hate us and that’s all there is to it. We have and want nothing to do with them. What is done is done and Griffin is behind bars where he deserves to be.’
The friend added: ‘I hope there isn’t more killing because he’s been put away but you never know.’
Local Sinn Fein Councillor Christy Burke said residents of the area – who include Boyzone star Stephen Gately’s elderly parents – are hoping life can now return to normal.
But, he said: ‘For as long as you have armed gardaÌ on the streets, there is fear in the air.
‘Although people are getting on with their lives as much as they can under the circumstances, they can’t help but ask themselves who is going to get caught up in the feud next.’
Meanwhile, the woman at the centre of the feud lives with the constant fear of attack. As a result, she has round-the-clock protection.
An unmarked Emergency Response Unit (ERU) car with at least two gardaÌ armed with Uzi submachine-guns and Heckler and Koch pistols is constantly parked outside her house when she is there, while another unit patrols the area.
An ERU vehicle accompanies her when she ventures outside and plainclothes detectives follow her.
Members of the Army’s bomb disposal unit are also on standby in case any suspicious packages are found at or near her house, the entrance to which is protected by a spiked metal railing.
A security system involving CCTV and panic buttons has also been installed at the woman’s home.
Even when she is not at home, gardaÌ in stab-proof vests patrol the nearby streets, checking cars and noting registration numbers.
A minor alert was sparked early on Friday evening after gardaÌ noticed a car with tinted windows parked across from the woman’s house.
Two officers investigated, peering through the windows to make sure there was nobody actually in the car.
The Garda operation – launched not only to protect Griffin’s victim but also to help keep some kind of peace in the area – is believed to have cost at least e250,000 so far.
Asked if the woman ever intends leaving the area, a friend of Griffin’s victim – who cannot be named for legal reasons – said: ‘No way.
‘She will never leave here. She is not going to be hounded out of her home. She’s a tough character and she’s staying put.’