Seven still held over €7.6 million bank theft


Seven people are still being questioned today in connection with the theft of €7.6 million from a Bank of Ireland vault in Dublin city centre yesterday.

Gardaí investigating the theft have recovered a large portion of the cash in the Dublin suburbs of Phibsboro and Blanchardstown.

Six men and one woman have been arrested in connection with the so-called 'tiger kidnapping' and theft. They are members of a well-known gang from Dublin's north inner city and are connected to a major Dublin gangland figure.

One man was arrested following a car chase car on the M50 close to the Navan Road shortly after 9.30pm last night. The six other people were arrested in the Dublin 7 area later the same evening.

Gardaí discovered what they call "a substantial quantity" of cash in the course of the series of arrests. They also seized six cars.

The six men and one woman who range in ages from early 20s to late 30s are being held in Blanchardstown, Bridewell, Finglas, Mountjoy and Pearse Street Garda stations under Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act.

Earlier yesterday, Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern expressed his concern at the circumstances surrounding what was the biggest robbery in the history of the State.

A bank worker was forced to deliver the money, before gardaí were informed, to a gang holding his partner and her family hostage.

Two women and a five-year-old boy were kidnapped at gunpoint and tied up by the north Dublin gang. One of the women was also beaten.

The bank official forced to steal the money, Shane Travers (24), is the son of a garda. He was told to bring the cash to Clontarf Dart station in north Dublin, less than half a mile from where his father is stationed.

Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy and other senior officers are to hold a series of talks with senior banking officials to reiterate safety protocols after yesterday's robbery of the Bank of Ireland vaults at College Green in Dublin city centre.

The facility was holding such a large sum because it is a collection point for vans delivering cash to banks and ATM machines around the country. Mr Travers is not a senior member of staff. The vaults were opened as normal at 7am when Mr Travers arrived.

Mr Ahern said protocols agreed between the banking sector and Garda stated that in the event of a kidnap situation, no money should be taken from any bank facility before gardaí were alerted.

He said because that protocol was not followed yesterday, gardaí had no time to put a rapid reaction operation in place. "I would be less than frank if I didn't say that there are issues of concern in relation to how this happened and how it was allowed to happen," he said.

Labour's justice spokesman, Pat Rabbitte, said the stolen money would now be invested in the drug trade. Fine Gael spokesman on justice Charlie Flanagan said similar robberies had been foiled in the past by surveillance, noting that funding for Garda overtime had now been reduced.

The north Dublin gang behind the raid staked out a house at Badgers Hill, Kilteel, Co Kildare, where Mr Travers, from north Co Dublin, lives with his girlfriend, Stephanie Smith, and her family.

Mr Travers was in the house alone when his girlfriend and her mother returned to the property just after 10pm on Thursday with Stephanie Smith's five-year-old nephew.

As the women and boy arrived at the house, a six-man gang burst into the property. Three of them were armed with handguns and one with a shotgun. One of the men took a vase and smashed it across Stephanie Smith's head.

At about 5.30am yesterday, the two women and the boy were tied up and put into the back of a blue Peugeot Partner van and driven to a disused house at The Rath, near Ashbourne, Co Meath.

The Smiths managed to free themselves at 8.30am and walk to Ashbourne Garda station. Mr Travers's red Celica car was found burned out in Glasnevin.