A FORMER politician and bankrupt developer who, along with his young children, was lucky to escape serious injury after they came under gunfire had a substantial sum of money in the boot of his car.
Gardai are trying to find a motive for the attack on Ger Killally, who overturned his car as he drove frantically to flee his attackers.
The 42-year-old former Fianna Fail councillor and Dail running mate of ex-Taoiseach Brian Cowen was with his children, Beibhinn (2), Ferdia (3) and had his father Jay in the car when two shots were fired at the vehicle.
Gardai said it was unlikely that the gunman and his accomplice intended to rob Mr Killally of the five-figure sum of money in the boot.
It is understood that the cash was to have been used by Mr Killally to make a purchase as part of his new business.
Officers said a botched robbery was one option under consideration, although they thought it more likely that the shooting might have been intended to scare Mr Killally, who has a string of debts as a result of his financial difficulties.
The incident took place at around 10.30am yesterday outside Mr Killally's luxury home at Shean, Edenderry, Co Offaly.
Last night, Jay Killally described their ordeal, saying: "We drove out of the house in my car, Ger was driving and I was in the passenger seat, and the two kids were strapped into their seats in the back.
"They pulled in and blocked us in. Ger copped them. I thought it was just someone coming in but he saw the fellow coming out with the balaclava on. We reversed and hit the bollard.
"We drove up the road (towards the village of Clonbullogue) but there was a bollard caught under the car and we crashed and went into a field. The kids were in their car seats and it's lucky they were or they would be dead because the car turned over."
The car was not hit by the shots and gardai said last night they were not sure what type of gun was used in the attack.
They found no evidence of pellets or wadding to indicate that a shotgun had been used.
But they were satisfied that two shots had been fired on the information of the family and another eyewitness.
Before falling from grace, Mr Killally served as Cathaoirleach of Offaly County Council and ran for the Dail with Mr Cowen.
He had noticed the car parked outside his house for around 30 minutes but had not paid much attention to it.
Mr Killally drove past his electric gates and was about to pass through the bollards at the entrance to his driveway when a silver Opel Astra, with an 06 registration plate, blocked his way.
A man who was sitting in the passenger seat then emerged and fired two shots at Mr Killally's car, a Volkswagen Passat, which is owned by his father.
He was forced to reverse and then drive through a bollard and large plant pot at the entrance of his home.
The bollard became stuck underneath the car, which he drove for around 200 metres up the road before losing control and crashing into a ditch.
The car spun on its side before crashing into a concrete shed, bringing it to a halt on its wheels.
The silver Astra pursued Mr Killally initially but then turned around and sped past his house back towards Edenderry.
A local man who lives near the crash site came to the aid of the former politician and the alarm was raised.
There were no serious injuries but Mr Killally suffered cuts from the broken glass. His father was also treated for cuts to the hands and his daughter complained of pains in the side. His son was uninjured.
While Mr Killally had CCTV cameras outside his house, it's understood that the wires had been cut before the attack.
Gardai appealed last night to anybody, who was in the Shean area between 9.30am and 10.30am to contact them.
Last year Mr Killally received a three-year suspended prison sentence after pleading guilty to stealing €18,000 worth of equipment from a shop he used to own in Westmeath.
He was also handed 240 hours of community service for a fraud offence. In 2010 bankruptcy documents put his debts at more than €73m.