'It was fight or flight' - RTE presenter Blathnaid Ni Chofaigh after rugby-tackling thief
RTE presenter Blathnaid Ni Chofaigh saved the day when she rugby tackled a mugger to the ground in the middle of a busy Dublin street.
The thief had stolen the wallet of an unsuspecting Australian tourist and was sprinting from the scene when Blathnaid leapt into action.
The mum-of-four was standing on the corner of Merrion Square when she heard the distressed woman’s cries.
“I’d just been at a business meeting when I heard this blood-curdling shout and the words, ‘Stop him! Stop him!’
“I turned around and I saw a man with a wallet in his hand running up the street.”
Instinct took over and Blathnaid jumped into the middle of road and swung her laptop bag at him.
“It was fight or flight,” she told the Herald.
“It was instinctive. Before I knew what was happening I was in the middle of the road in front of him.
“Thank God no cars were coming. I looked totally insane – like a complete mad person.”
Unfortunately, Blathnaid failed to hit the criminal as her laptop bag was simply too heavy.
But she was determined not to give up, and before the man could get away she lunged towards him and pushed him forward.
By this stage a crowd of five women were on the scene, all of them willing to help keep the mugger rooted to the spot until gardai arrived.
“It was another woman who eventually brought him to the ground,” Blathnaid said. “She was also a redhead.”
While that woman was struggling with the thief, he shoved her and she fell, hitting her head on the pavement.
“It made an almighty crack,” said Blathnaid.
“She was quite young and I was worried she had hurt herself.”
The crowd of women eventually pinned the thief down and wrestled the wallet from his grip before returning it to the Australian woman, who was “in tears”.
Gardai arrived shortly afterwards and questioned the man.
An ambulance also arrived to treat the young woman who had struck her head.
Blathnaid thinks she was encouraged to intervene and stop the fleeing thief in the wake of the international women’s marches that took place around the world.
“I think I felt emboldened because of all the marches,” she said. “I was there on Saturday and I think maybe that was why we all wanted to help this woman – there was a feeling of rallying together.”
Blathnaid was considerably less impressed by the lack of action from male passers-by.
“I remember looking up and all these women were in the thick of it and then in the background were two fellas standing there watching all the action with their hands in their pockets,” she said.
Blathnaid also commended the gardai for their work.
“They were absolutely fantastic – the way they talked to all of us was brilliant.
“They were kind and compassionate and treated the young man with respect, which I thought was very admirable.”
While the TV host was feeling “empowered” after the incident, she said her afternoon ended on a bit of a downer.
“After all that drama, I got back to the car to find out I had been bloody clamped. Can you believe it?” she said.
“So I had to wait and pay the €80 fine. I said to the clamper, ‘I stopped a robber today’ and he just shrugged and said, ‘You can appeal it if you really want’.
“You know what they say – no good deed goes unpunished.”
When contacted by the Herald last night to see if they would consider waiving Blathnaid’s penalty, Dublin City Council said they would look into the matter.