Griffin lived in Rockland Street, Belfast, and was a member of the Revolutionary Workers’ Groups in Ireland in the early 1930s. These were formed to prepare the ground for the launching of a Communist Party across all of Ireland; a development that did not finally occur until the summer of 1933.
The year before, almost a quarter of the population of Belfast was out of work. The local Board of Guardians provided the lowest payment in any city in the UK. Even this was only doled out in the form of "chits", which were only given in return for undertaking heavy work such as road resurfacing. Chits were used as a kind of currency only in certain grocery shops and the name of all recipients were posted on public notices. Protests against these restrictions and others grew apace, uniting Catholic and Protestant.
When the government outlawed all protests, the consequent hostile response from the public saw people killed by police gunfire as crowds were forcibly dispersed. Single men and women who were unemployed were especially hard hit. Griffin led a mass raid on the Belfast workhouse in October 1933 and was sentenced to three months in prison for speaking in public in the Custom House Square, with the intent to cause “discontent to the people”. He died after being imprisoned.