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Sunday 23 September 2018

Manhunt underway after four-man gang carried out armed raid at rural bank

Bank of Ireland, Strokestown was targeted by four armed men
Bank of Ireland, Strokestown was targeted by four armed men

Ian Begley

GARDAÍ are hunting for a gang of raiders after four armed men burst into a bank and made off with a sum of cash.

The masked men entered the Bank of Ireland on Main Street, Strokestown, Co Roscommon, at about 2.15pm yesterday.

The raiders were wearing gloves and carrying a handgun and iron bars.

It’s reported that one of the thieves pointed the gun at staff during the terrifying incident.

It is understood that a fifth male was waiting in a car outside the bank.

The raiders escaped with a sum of cash, leaving the scene in a black Audi travelling in the direction of Elphin Road.

A Garda spokesperson said that no arrests have been made and investigations are ongoing.

In the aftermath of the robbery, the rural town is said to be shocked and very concerned.

Roscommon Councillor Valerie Byrne told the Irish Independent the closure of nearby Tarmonbarry garda station has made Strokestown a “soft target” for criminal gangs.

“This robbery was definitely well planned. These guys knew to hit the bank on a Friday since its ATMs would be full of money.

“I’m aware that they broke into the ATMs from the inside of the bank while pointing a gun at the staff. I feel so sorry for them. They’re all members of this community and were just going about their day when this happened.

“Even though there were no reports of injuries, I’m sure they’re experiencing a lot of mental trauma.”

She called for more resources to help fight rural crime.

“About six years ago Tarmonbarry garda station was closed down, which is a big shame because they [gardaí] might have been able to stop these guys after they fled,” Ms Byrne added.

“The Government needs towake up and see that rural communities are constantly at risk for these types of crimes.

“Are we going to have to wait until someone is killed for them to take action?”

Strokestown Cllr Joe Murphy agreed the lack of Garda resources makes the town a target. “These gangs are well aware of the towns that have a

small Garda presence,” he said.

“I would be constantly calling for more resources in rural communities in general.”

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