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Dissident republican gang suspected in botched heist

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Andrew Bushe

DUBLIN — A gang of dissident republicans are suspected to have been responsible for a botched £400,000 ram raid on a armored car in Dalkey on Monday when masked men with AK47 assault rifles opened fire twice.

Almost all the cash was recovered after the gang’s getaway car broke down and they were forced to hijack another one.

The driver of the getaway car was shot in the shoulder by one of the masked gang, which numbered at least five. The raiders, who also wore flak jackets, had previously fired into the cash van’s tires.

The gang used radio scanners to monitor gardai wavebands. They abandoned most of the money during the transfer between the getaway cars.

The last time there was an attempted robbery on a cash van involving weapons of this kind one of the raiders, a member of the extreme republican Real IRA, was shot dead by gardai in Ashford, Co. Wicklow, last May 1.

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Gardai suspect that the raid may have been a funding-raising effort by a new alignment of extreme dissidents who may be operating under the name of the Continuity IRA, which has not called a cease-fire.

The Real IRA, which claimed responsibility for the Omagh bombing last Aug. 15, in which 29 men, women and children were killed, later called a cease-fire.

In recent weeks, however, gardai and the RUC have expressed concern about possible renewed military activity by republican extremists.

Gardai refused to comment on whether the latest raid may have been carried out by ordinary criminals or if paramilitary elements may have been involved.

The gang used two trucks reinforced with steel girders to ram the cash van. They had been stolen in Rathmines and adapted in the last two months.

The hijacked getaway car was later found abandoned in South Dublin.

Det. Superintendent Martin Donnellan described it as a "highly organized robbery. They were certainly heavily armed."

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