Joined by senior gardaí, the minister spent yesterday talking with the bank’s new chief executive Richie Boucher. Afterwards, he said detailed procedures had been drawn up and Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy will have to work with financial institutions to ensure they are strictly followed.
Mr Ahern said it was not a matter of focusing on the staff or victims of such robberies but, rather, the way in which banks ensure workers know what to do.
“It is clear the procedures set down were not adhered to,” he said.
“Obviously, given the fact there is so much technological security built around banks these days what is happening, unfortunately, is that these gangs are targeting the line of least resistance which is the human element.”
The minister revealed when bank official Shane Travers arrived at the Bank of Ireland yesterday morning, other staff members were in the building and some were aware of his ordeal. However, nobody raised the alarm when Mr Travers filled up his sports car with €7m and drove to a rendezvous with the raiders.
Mr Ahern suggested that, had procedures been followed and the Garda Emergency Response Unit alerted, the operation could have been foiled.
“The bird had flown by the time the gardaí were informed,” he said. Mr Ahern also said the circumstances should not have arisen where a single person would be allowed to leave a bank with such a large amount of money.
Fine Gael’s justice spokesman Charlie Flanagan said such robberies could be foiled where there was a well-funded intelligence network. The Laois-Offaly TD said such a measure was currently not in place.
“The evidence shows where tiger kidnappings have been foiled, it was down to garda monitoring of known criminals. Intelligence-led policing is one of the most effective ways to combat tiger kidnappings which inflict horrendous trauma on victims.
“A 25% cut in garda overtime and a reduction in the number of new gardaí in Templemore will make surveillance operations more difficult and this is worrying given the growing number of tiger kidnappings being carried out,” said Mr Flanagan.