Tuesday 12 November 2019

Gardai struggle to solve riddle of sewer raiders

Mark Hilliard

THE State Solicitor's Office, a branch of AIB and €50m of rhino horns . . . these are just three of the potential targets for two men who entered Dublin's sewerage system.

The pair were spotted entering the sewers via a manhole beside Dublin Castle last Friday night.

It is still unclear what the men were after. Although gardai pursued them, nobody was found and it is thought they may have escaped into the River Liffey.

One theory as to their motives surrounds the storage of precious rhino horns, which were put in safe storage at the nearby Chester Beatty Library following a spate of global thefts from museums.

Dublin City councillor Mannix Flynn, who in the past raised concerns about the security of the horns, said if there was a criminal intent, the horns may have been the target.

According to reports, a map being carried by the men was discovered in one of the tunnels.

Gardai are continuing to investigate the matter and have been examining CCTV footage.

There has been mounting speculation surrounding their motives including theories they may have been trying to access the State Solicitor's Office, Dublin Castle or a nearby branch of AIB on Dame Street.

But Mr Flynn, who represents that part of the city, said: "The biggest risk in that area is the Chester Beatty because it has rhino horns worth around €50m.

"They put them out of circulation (in the museums) and put them down into the ground because there was an attempt to get at them.

"I raised that risk element with them. I was concerned that we have the rarest collection and we didn't seem to be aware that there was a high-scale risk of theft. That is the most obvious (target)."

According to the museum, it houses "one of the world's largest collections of carved rhinoceros horn cups".


Last year, police across the continent advised museums to hide their rhino horn collections following some 20 thefts in just six months. At the time, Europol said many of these were carried out by an Irish crime gang.

In Asia, it is believed they carry medicinal value and are in huge demand, often fetching twice their weight in gold.

Last March, the Natural History Museum in Dublin announced it was to remove all of its horns from display.

Meanwhile, Dublin City Council said it was continuing to co-operate with a garda probe into exactly what took place.

The tunnel system underneath the city is about 50 miles in length.

Irish Independent

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