herald

Saturday 18 August 2018

‘Mortar attack’ as Dail opens for business

PANIC: Gardai swoop on driver

THIS was the chaotic scene today when a truck ram raided the gates of Leinster House.

A young garda had to jump to safety when the cement lorry smashed through the entrance of the Dail.

Gardai arrested the 41-year-old driver – believed to be a man styling himself the ‘Anglo Avenger’ – but it took hours to remove the 12-tonne vehicle.

FG's Fergus O'Dowd, who was on his way into the Dail, said: “People could have been killed.”

Emblazoned with the words “Toxic Bank”, the ram raid on the Kildare Street gates occurred on the first day of the new Dail term.

The incident sparked a major garda operation as officers descended on the Dail amid fears of a serious threat to TDs.

Gardai were forced to climb onto the top of the truck in order to apprehend a 41-yearold protester.

The businessman believed to be behind the attack has previously identified himself to the media as the “Anglo Avenger”.

Following a blockade using the same truck outside an Anglo Irish Bank branch in Galway last April, he revealed that he owes €3.5m.

“I don't do this for publicity: I do this to get it out of my system because I'm furious about Anglo,” he said.

Today’s situation was developing as TDs returned to Leinster House for the first Dail sitting since the start of their summer recess 12-weeks ago.

Entrance

Sources say that the Volvo 360 did not attempt to ram the famous Kildare Street entrance but said that the driver was determined to block the gate at around 7am.

Mechanics worked furiously to try to unlock the truck's breaks after the driver cut electric cables in order to prevent the mixer being reversed.

However, a specialist towtruck arrived under garda escort just before 10am and moved the vehicle.

An eye-witness told the Herald: “The driver got out of the truck and got up on top of it. They [gardai] had to climb up on top to take him down.”

A gardai spokesperson said that one man was being detained at Pearse Street Garda Station in relation to “damage that was done to the front gates of Leinster House”

The mixer is painted red and white and has the words Toxic Bank and Anglo Irish Bank written across it.

Slogans plastered across the truck also include “€1,000,000 on golf ”.

An Oireachtas spokesperson told the Herald that ”there will be no disruption to Dail proceedings”.

Fine Gael's Fergus O'Dowd, who was on the scene shortly after the incident, explained: “At least one garda or more had to jump out of the way of this truck.

“If it had been later in the morning staff could have been killed,” he added.

Eye-witness Carol Tracey from the nearby Petit Café said that gardai were on the scene in “nanoseconds”.

“The place was suddenly swarming with guards,” she said.

A similar incident in Galway on April 1 caused considerable disruption in the city for over two hours.

On that occasion, the driver refused to remove the truck from outside a branch of Anglo Irish Bank.

hnews@herald.ie

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