Gardaí are trying to establish if the complex failed business dealings of a close friend and election running mate of former taoiseach Brian Cowen was linked to a gun attack on him.
Ger Killally (43) was with his elderly father and two of his four children – aged two and three – when he was ambushed by a gunman as he drove out of his home near Edenderry, Co Offaly, yesterday morning. It is unclear if those behind the attack were trying to kill or threaten him, though gardaí are investigating reports from witnesses that the gunman appeared to fire shots over Mr Killally's car rather than directly at it.
However, Garda sources said the attack had clearly been pre-planned and involved two people who knew Mr Killally’s movements and where he lived. “They were definitely waiting on him and had arranged and planned it; it wasn’t a spur of the moment thing,” said one source.
Mr Killally had been extensively involved in property development in the local community and when the economy crashed he was left with a number of debts totalling more than €10million.
The former auctioneer and former Offaly County Council cathaoirleach drove out the electric gates of his large home in the townland of Shean at about 10.40am yesterday and found his silver VW Passat impeded by another vehicle, an 06 D silver Astra saloon carrying at least two men. A man stepped from the other vehicle armed with what gardaí believe was a shotgun.
Mr Killally tried to get away, colliding with a concrete pillar outside his home. He drove up the road for a few hundred metres with the concrete pillar jammed under his car. He then lost control of the vehicle, which hit a hedge and rolled over into a field before correcting itself.
Mr Killally then got out of the car and in an apparently dazed state ran across the field in an effort to get away from his attackers. Said one witness: “He went into the neighbour’s house and I walked up the road and rang the police. The kids were still in the car, it hit a pillar and landed back down on its wheels, so if it hadn’t have hit that it would have rolled about four or five times.
“I was holding the little girl while the other guy up the road was holding the boy and he [/Mr Killally] was just up the road trying to figure out what was going on. [Gardaí] were here within four or five minutes because I rang the police and he had walked up the road to the other house and they had rang as well.”
Gardaí believe at least two shots, possibly more, were fired during the incident. A shot was discharged by the gunman at the bottom of Mr Killally’s driveway. He then got back into his car driven by an accomplice and pursued Mr Killally’s vehicle, discharging the gun again in the seconds before the vehicle turned over. When the car rolled, the gunman and his accomplice did a U-turn in the road in an effort to see if Mr Killally was still in his vehicle. When they realised he was fleeing across the field they sped from the scene. A number of people in area, at least two of whom witnessed the attack, ran to the aid of the family.
Neither Mr Killally, his father nor two young children had sustained any serious injury.
Gardaí sealed off a section of road between Clonbullogue and Edenderry for a number of hours yesterday as technical experts examined the scene.