Couple and three young children terrorised by travelling burglar gang
GARDAI have smashed a travelling gang they believe responsible for a spate of burglaries around the country.
The Dublin based outfit was one of the top outfits targeted under Operation Fiacla, which was set up eighteen months ago by Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan to combat the wave of burglaries nationwide.
Seven men are in garda custody today after gardai intercepted key suspects following a break in at a house in Killenaule, Co Tipperary.
The garda swoops came after a seven-strong gang forced their way into a house at Burnchurch, Killenaule, around 3am.
They terrorised Mark and Emma Corcoran and their three children, all girls under the age of eight, and demanded cash.
The parents were tied up during their horrific ordeal as members of the gang robbed cash, jewellery and other property from the house.
The gang also stole the family's car and the seven then made their escape.
Shortly afterwards gardai stopped a car near Portlaoise and detained five men.
Around 9am today officers intercepted the stolen family car - a Kia Sportage SUV which has a 2.5 litre engine - at Newlands Cross and arrested two other suspects.
It's understood that these men - aged 26 and 29 - "laid low" for a couple of hours before attempting to make their return to Dublin.
The gardai traced the car and made every effort to make a "controlled stop" during rush hours traffic. However, in the end they were forced to ram the car in order to bring it to a stop. No injuries were sustained during the incident.
The seven suspects are now being held in a number of stations across Co Tipperary.
The arrests triggered major delays on the N7 in both directions
All seven men are being held for questioning under section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act today and can be detained without charge for up to three days.
The seven are from Coolock - the Priorswood, Moatview and Belcamp areas - on the northside of Dublin and are suspected to comprise one of the major travelling gangs, who have been operating from their bases in the capital and using the network of motorways to carry out burglaries across the country.
The arrests are regarded by senior garda officers as one of their biggest captures so far under Fiacla, which has curbed the rise in burglaries.
Latest figures show that burglaries are on the decrease over the past six months as a result of the garda targeting of the suspected key criminals.
Cash and stolen property were recovered by gardai as a result of searches of the two cars that were stopped by officers.
The gang had earlier stolen a car in Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny and then took a 4x4 vehicle belonging to the family.
They were armed with two shotguns and broke the man's nose with the butt of one of the weapons.
Both guns were recovered.
The man is married to a local business woman.
The 4x4 was spotted by gardai as it travelled along the N7 and the garda air support unit was brought in to keep track of the vehicle.
Garda cars moved in as the vehicle approached the Newlands Cross traffic lights on the Naas dual carriageway and rammed it.
All seven suspects were initially taken to Naas garda station and then transferred to stations in Tipperary.
By Ken Foy and Tom Brady