A criminal with dissident republican connections is among the suspects in the incident outside the home of the indebted former property developer and running mate of Brian Cowen, Ger Killally.
Gardai have stepped up patrols around Mr Killally's home outside Edenderry, Co Offaly, following the incident on Thursday morning in which two shots were apparently fired in the air as Mr Killally was driving from his home with two of his young children and, according to reports, with €20,000 in cash in the boot of his car.
The car was not hit, but gardai believe that the attackers may have been aware that Mr Killally had a substantial sum of cash in the boot of the car.
Mr Killally has a large number of creditors – 2010 bankruptcy documents put his debts at €73m – and gardai have yet to establish a main suspect or a solid reason behind the attack.
Mr Killally's father, Jay, and two young children, aged two and three, were also travelling in Jay's Volkswagen Passat as he was about to drive out of the avenue from the family home at Shean, Co Offaly.
It is understood that Mr Killally had placed a large sum of cash in the boot with the intention of making a purchase with the money as part of a business deal.
Garda inquiries have established that a silver Opel Astra car, with an 06 registration plate, which was used by the gunmen in their getaway from the scene of the shooting, had been driven several times up and down the road outside his house for about half-an- hour prior to the attack. Eye-witnesses interviewed by gardai had noticed the Astra as it was travelling towards the town of Edenderry and then back again.
The shots did not hit the Passat, although they were fired at a relatively close distance and gardai believe they could have been fired into the air in an effort to scare Mr Killally.
The gunman was close enough to notice the children and Jay Killally as passengers.
In his efforts to escape, Mr Killally reversed at speed away from his attackers and then drove through a bollard and a large plant pot at the entrance before speeding off away from the town.
The bollard became stuck underneath the Passat, which he drove for around 200 metres before crashing into a ditch.
The car turned on its side before crashing into a concrete shed, bringing it to a halt on its wheels.
Mr Killally ran from the car into a field in an effort to attract the gunmen away from his family.
But the Astra, which was in pursuit, suddenly screeched to a halt, reversed and was driven at high speed towards Edenderry.
Both Mr Killally and his father sustained cuts from glass broken in the crash, while his daughter complained of pains in her side. His son was uninjured.
Gardai appealed for assistance from anyone who might have seen the Astra, either earlier that morning or after the attack.
Mr Killally, a former Cathaoirleach of Offaly County Council and running mate of Brian Cowen, received a suspended three-year prison sentence last year after he pleaded guilty to stealing €18,000 of equipment from a shop he used to own in Rochfortbridge, Westmeath.
The bankrupt father-of-four was also sentenced to 240 hours of community service for a fraud offence.
In 2010, bankruptcy documents put his debts at more than €73m. The following year a man was charged with stalking him.
In March last year a judgement of €9.7m was entered against him at the Commercial Court over one of his property deals.