A PENSIONER was among three suspects being questioned by gardai last night after armed officers recovered part of the €210,000 haul taken in a tiger kidnap on Tuesday.
The grandfather is suspected of acting as a minder for some of the money stolen by a Dublin south inner-city gang.
Acting on intelligence, gardai seized €30,000 after arresting two other suspects, aged 23 and 38, when they intercepted a car on the banks of the Royal Canal in Finglas, west Dublin, on Wednesday night.
Gardai are satisfied that the money, which was still bundled in bank wrappings, was part of the haul which the bank official was forced to take from the Crumlin Cross branch of Allied Irish Banks (AIB) while his housemate was being held hostage by the gang. Officers believe it was one gang member's "cut" and was being moved to another location.
Backed up by members of the Emergency Response Unit, in conjunction with the investigation team at Tallaght, the Organised Crime Unit swooped on the car on the River Road as it was about to be driven into an underground car park at an apartment block.
The two younger men were detained at the scene and taken to Finglas station for questioning under section 50 of the Criminal Justice Act 2007.
The 23-year-old man is suspected of taking part in the tiger kidnap with at least four others. Gardai believe the stolen money was being taken to an address in Finglas when it was intercepted.
In a follow-up operation, gardai raided a house in the Blackhorse Avenue area and detained a man in his 70s. He was being questioned last night at Cabra station, also under section 50.
Under the legislation, the three can all be detained without charge for up to seven days.
Justice Minister Dermot Ahern yesterday congratulated gardai on the operation.
"I understand that a sizeable sum of money has been identified as being part of the proceeds of the robbery," he said.
But he was critical of the failure of AIB to implement agreed protocols, which he said had been designed to ensure bank staff safety in tiger kidnaps.
"Department of Justice senior officials and senior gardai have been focusing their attention this week on ensuring that the protocols are implemented at all times," he added.
Mr Ahern has received an interim report on the robbery, but is awaiting a final report to explain how a junior bank official could gain access to such a large amount of money without having to notify senior management in the branch.
The terrified bank official was ordered by the gang to collect the cash in a sports bag if he wanted to see his friend again.
The housemate was abducted at gunpoint from their home at Deerpark View in Kiltipper, Tallaght, and held hostage in the boot of a car before being released unharmed at a road junction in Coolock on Tuesday afternoon.
In the meantime, the official had taken the €210,000 to a pre-arranged location in the car park of the Red Cow hotel, at the Naas dual carriageway.