Pub owned by Celtic star's dad torched in raid
A PUB targeted by gardai investigating Real IRA activities was gutted in an arson attack yesterday morning during an armed robbery in which €50,000 was stolen.
John Stokes (54), father of Celtic striker Anthony, owns the Players Lounge and lives above it. The player had been socialising in the pub over the weekend after the team played in the Dublin Super Cup. However, he had returned to Scotland before the attack occurred.
Jason Lambert, the agent for the Fenian Folk Band which played the venue on Monday, told the Irish Independent that the premises was "absolutely packed" during the day.
Due to the nature of the attack, officers believe it was unlikely to have been a simple case of criminals robbing the premises after a busy night.
The pub, located in Fairview, Dublin, was attacked at around 2am yesterday by four men -- one of whom was armed. They tied up a bar manager after forcing him to remove €50,000 from the safe in the office.
It is understood that two separate fires were then started.
The manager escaped from the burning premises uninjured. A number of units from the Dublin Fire Brigade took more than two hours to get the fire under control and nearby homes on Fairview Strand had to be evacuated while the blaze was being fought.
The pub was a burnt-out shell with massive damage visible as gardai began technical examinations yesterday.
The building and a nearby laneway leading to the beer garden were cordoned off.
Investigating gardai yesterday said that it was "unusual" for raiders to set a business premises on fire after carrying out a robbery.
Gardai have appealed to any person who noticed anything suspicious in the area between 2am and 3am yesterday to contact Clontarf garda station on 01 6664800 or the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666111.