THUGS who held up bank staff yesterday were left red- handed as well as red-faced when a box of cash "blew up" as they ran towards a getaway car.
The two raiders burst into the Dame Street branch of Ulster Bank in the centre of Dublin shortly after it opened at 10am and threatened the staff.
Gardai said the raiders were armed with a metal bar, although one witness said she believed it was a firearm.
They ordered the frightened staff to hand over a box containing about €6,000 in cash and made off on foot along Dame Street.
One of the gang then attempted to open the box and a red security dye immediately spurted onto the two men, destroying some of the cash.
The surprised raiders dumped the stained notes -- reckoned to be worth almost half of their haul -- before they jumped into a waiting red Mazda hatchback car, which had been parked nearby.
Gardai later recovered the car, which had been abandoned by the raiders in the Fitzgibbon Street area in the north inner city.
The vehicle had been stolen three days earlier in Dublin city centre.
Officers last night appealed to any witnesses to the incident to contact them at the investigation headquarters at Pearse Street station (telephone 01 6669000), or the confidential line 1800 666111.
Detectives were also anxious to hear from members of the public who saw two young men with red dye stains on their clothing.