15 December 2008

Robbers used Minister "as Human Shield" during an armed Raid on Luxury Hotel in Co. Wicklow

Nine people, including an Irish junior minister, have been held hostage at gunpoint during an armed robbery at a luxury hotel in Co. Wicklow today.

The Minister for European Affairs Dick Roche (right) and his driver were leaving the Marriott Hotel in Druids' Glen (photo below left) when they were confronted by three masked men, one of whom was armed with a sawn-off shotgun.

Roche, who is also a TD for the Wicklow constituency, was at the Druids' Glen - one of the most luxurious and expensive hotels in Ireland - as a private citizen, "just going for a swim in the fine pool" of the establishment's fitness centre.
Afterwards he said that he was "used as a human shield" by the armed gang who carried out the robbery. He also described his experience as '"fairly threatening" and "not pleasant".

The minister did not think the raiders recognised him, he added. And he is probably right, which says a lot about his political profile. But in this case it probably saved him, as some enterprising gangsters could well have added the abduction of a prominent politician to his usual portfolio of armed robbery.

The three men forced Roche and his driver back into the reception area, where they demanded money from staff at the desk.
They then moved their captives at gunpoint to another room, where they took more money.

Later the armed raiders forced a total of nine people - Dick Roche, his driver and seven hotel employees - down two flights of stairs into a room in the basement, where more money was found and stolen.
From their behaviour it appears that the gang had precise information where in the hotel money was stored at a certain time. This points clearly to an insider connection of some sort.

Eventually the robbers locked all nine people, three men and six women, into a store room and escaped with around € 20,000.

No shots were fired during the incident and nobody was injured. But all nine hostages - including Minister Roche - are said to be "quite shaken" by the experience.
have started a major search operation for the gang, but so far no further developments have been reported.

I am no crime expert and do not have further details, but the modus operandi of the gang looks very much like a number of similar raids that have been carried out in several parts of eastern Europe throughout this Summer.
It would not surprise me if there is a connection with the Russian or Bulgarian Mafia (most of whose gunmen are ex-KGB agents and former professional wrestlers).
If so, it would also explain why the robbers did not recognise Dick Roche. Anyone who has lived in Ireland since the Spring of this year would have seen him many times in newspapers and on TV, as he is the minister responsible for the Lisbon Treaty and the referendum over it.

The Emerald Islander

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