Airport security review as full scale of car rampage revealed
Published 24/05/2011 | 05:00
A FULL review of security at Cork Airport was under way yesterday as eye witnesses gave further harrowing details of how a deranged man went on a rampage in a stolen car.
The full scale of the terror felt by bystanders emerged yesterday as eye-witnesses told of their fears for children's lives as the 38-year-old man drove through busy city centre walkways in Cork before he was pursued by gardai to the airport.
The incident on Sunday came just two days after Queen Elizabeth's visit to the city.
Shoppers watched in horror as the man drove a stolen garda patrol car through a pedestrianised thoroughfare full of young girls in their Holy Communion outfits.
The Waterford man had just slashed a garda's face with a knife, before hijacking the car and starting his reckless rampage to Cork Airport.
Following an almost-suicidal joyride around the airport's tarmac, he was tazered by a Garda Regional Response Unit and apprehended.
"I saw the garda running in the middle of the road with blood streaming down his face," said Patsy O'Leary, proprietor of the Cork Arms pub. "For a minute I thought it was a film. You would not have expected it at about 4.30 in the evening.
"The next thing I saw was a guy in a green T-shirt and he went into the police car and slammed the door and tried to drive it. He bashed into what looked like a BMW coupe and reversed back into it again, took a mad swerve and drove off down Winthrop Street.
"There were children who obviously had made their Communion the previous day in their little dresses, and we were just hoping, because he wasn't stopping for anyone, as he drove down the pedestrianised street like a madman. Thankfully there was nobody hurt."
Karl Power, a Corkman who was boarding a flight to return to his job in Amsterdam, described what happened at Cork Airport as "surreal".
"I was convinced somebody was going to be killed," he said. "He actually seemed to be aiming for the guards in the car. My hand was shaking as I filmed it on my iPhone.
"There were fuel trucks out there and airplanes. Anything could have happened. When I got off the plane in Amsterdam and saw armed security everywhere, it really brought home how lax the security is back home," he added.
Cork Airport Authority has said that it will undertake a full internal security review following Sunday's incident.
"An investigation by An Garda Siochana is under way," said a spokesperson, "and, under the circumstances it would be inappropriate for Cork Airport to comment further."
Quirine Overeijnder, a lawyer from The Hague in Holland who was visiting Ireland for the weekend, said she and her boyfriend had some "very anxious" moments as they watched the stolen car ram various vehicles around the apron.
"We had just watched two big gasoline trucks drive past the window. It also occurred to me that because there are no air bridges, what would have happened if we were standing on the runway waiting to board?"
The two gardai injured in the incident were released from hospital yesterday. The man has since undergone psychiatric evaluation.