By David Raleigh
Gardaí have appealed for witnesses after staff at a well-known Limerick pub were held up and assaulted by an armed gang during a two-hour aggravated burglary.
The proprietor of Russell's Bar and Restaraunt, Tommy O'Sullivan, said staff endured a "horrific ordeal" when a two-man gang, who wore balaclavas and were armed with a firearm and a crowbar, carried out the raid late Sunday night into Monday morning last.
The gang tied up one staff member, assaulted another, and locked all of the staff into a room.
The raiders, who also caused damage to the premises, stole an undisclosed amount of cash before they fled in a car belonging to one of the pub's employees.
Gardai said staff were "traumatised" following the incident. Mr O'Sullivan said, if it was required, counselling would be provided to staff.
A garda spokeswoman said: "Two males entered the premise and were believed to have a firearm and a crowbar and threatened staff, and one bound one of the staff with a cable tie and locked them in a room."
"One of the staff was assaulted but their injuries are not life-threatening. A sum of cash was stolen in this burglary, and also a vehicle from the driveway, criminal damage was also caused in this robbery."
Gardai added that staff managed to raise the alarm "alerting gardai for assistance" after breaking open a door to the room in which they had been locked into.
Speaking to this reporter this Tuesday, Tommy O’Sullivan, proprietor, said his “only concern” was for staff.
“A number of the staff are with working here a long time; we don't see them as just staff, they are like our family. It went on for around four hours. It was a horrific ordeal for the staff," he added.
“We are liaising with all of the staff and we are trying to help everyone get themselves together after this. It’s a very sensitive time and everyone is on edge after it.”
“It's not nice for anyone. You don't deal with something like this every day,” Mr O’Sullivan said.
Making an appeal for witnesses, a second garda spokeswoman said the “aggravated burglary” occurred “on Monday the 12th of March between the hours of 1am and 3am”.
“Two males entered a licensed premises and approached staff. Both men were carrying weapons. There is no description of the two males as they wearing balaclavas hiding their faces," the spokeswoman added.
“The staff members were traumatised as they were assaulted in the incident. The two men fled the scene in a black Volkswagen Golf taken from one of the injured parties.”
Gardai believe the raiders made their getaway “in the direction of the Dock Road”.
"We are appealing for anyone that may have been in the vicinity of the Dooradoyle/Dock Road area to come forward with any information whatsoever regarding this incident. Roxboro Road Gardai are investigating this incident and can be contacted on 061 212340.”