Tuesday 23 January 2018

Health Minister Leo Varadkar caught up in dramatic armed robbery while canvassing

Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Health Minister Leo Varadkar was caught up in an armed robbery last night as he canvassed with supporters.

Two men, one armed with a sword and the other with a gun, had just threatened staff in the Spar store and were fleeing the scene with a sum of money when the minister arrived.

Mr Varadkar saw one of the armed robbers flee a Spar in Carpenters Town in Castleknock before he set out on a canvass with his constituency team yesterday evening.

The Minister was unharmed in the incident.

He was “relieved” no-one was hurt during the robbery in his local Spar, which he shops in “all the time” even though locals were "shocked" following the incident.

“A guy ran by me but it was all over by the time I arrived. Unfortunately, burglaries affect have every area of the country in recent year and I’m just glad no-one was hurt or harmed,” Mr Varadkar told Independent.ie.

It is also understood supporters of Fianna Fail candidate Jack Chambers were also on the scene as was Green Party councillor Roderick O’Gorman.

The robbery happened at 7pm last night on Carpenterstown Road in Castleknock.

Detectives were at the store earlier interviewing witnesses who were in the area at the time.

Meanwhile, a Fianna Fail canvasser has revealed  it took him 10 minutes to get through to emergency services after the armed robbery in which Mr Varadkar was caught up in last night.

Speaking on Morning Ireland today, Howard Mahony, a Fianna Fail canvasser and retired garda, who was in Dublin 15 last night, said that it took him “about 10 minutes to get through to the emergency services”.

“I got some sort of a recorded message,” he said. “That they couldn’t put me through at the moment. That’s a nationwide service and I can only assume that anyone who was trying to get through to the 999 line wasn’t able  to.

" I went over to the Minister and I told him and he seemed unconcerned by it. He said it ‘didn’t matter anyway as Roderick O’Gorman [a candidate in the area for the Green Party] had already gotten through’.

“I eventually got through about 10 minutes later. I kept trying as I wanted to get a decent description of what I had seen to garda. But it took me a while.

A retired garda and former candidate, Mr Mahony said he gave chase to the raiders but was unable to keep up with them.

“I gave chase but I was too far away. I just wanted to get a better look at them for the description for the garda."

He said the issue with the emergency services was “beyond politics”.

"This is what concerns me the most – the fact I couldn’t get through, the fact that I was put on hold and Mr Varadkar didn’t seem all that concerned for the service that he is effectively responsible for.

Speaking on the same programme, Mr Vardakar said he was "only concerned that someone had spoken to the garda.

“Roderick O’Gorman from the Green Party had already gotten through to the emergency services. My concern was that it been called in and the gardai were on their way. They arrived quite promptly."

The Minister agreed it was “worrying” that Mr Mahony couldn’t speak to someone on the Emergency Services line.

“But the situation that we were in – a robbery had just happened a few minutes previous and the main concern was that someone had spoken to emergency services”.

Mr Vardakar also revealed he is due to give a statement to garda concerning the robbery and had spoken to the Minister for Justice about it.

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