15/11/2007

Police Held Up During 'IRA' Kildare Hotel Robbery

Former members of the IRA are said to be the chief suspects in a spate of armed robberies on hotels in the midlands, including this morning's raid Co Kildare.

Two gardaí were held at gunpoint during the robbery at the Clonard Court Hotel in Athy last night and Gardaí believe the gang has been responsible for a series of raids over the past six months, including incidents at hotels in Kildare, Carlow, Meath, Kilkenny and Wexford.

Most of those raids took place at the weekend when large amounts of cash were still on the premises and each time a gang gained entry to the hotel in the middle of the night.

Reports indicate that during one of the previous robberies, raiders used a taxi plate on a vehicle to gain entry to the hotel and during another robbery the money was taken from a safe using a vacuum cleaner.

In the latest incident, the two police officers were held at gunpoint during the armed robbery which was carried out by four masked men - three armed with shotguns and one armed with a sledgehammer - who entered the hotel in Athy shortly after 2.30am on Thursday.

When the two police officers arrived at the hotel - as the robbery was in progress - they too were held up at gunpoint.

According to reports, the men first demanded the keys to the garda patrol car, before fleeing the scene in a red 4x4 vehicle, which had been stolen earlier in Athy. The jeep was later found abandoned in a field on Dublin Road.

It is understood that only a small amount of cash was stolen from the hotel.

(KMcA)


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