Ahern accused of using kidnap to float ATM charges

JUSTICE Minister Dermot Ahern has been accused of using the kidnap trauma of a bank official and his wife to float the possibility of introducing ATM charges.

Yesterday, Mr Ahern said the Government may have to consider making banks charge for ATM withdrawals to reduce the amount of cash in circulation and discourage robberies.

However, Fine Gael accused the minister of “flying a kite”. Spokesman for social protection Michael Ring said banks were obliged to hold large sums for commercial customers.

“The minister seems to think that charging individual customers for taking money from ATMs is somehow going to discourage criminals from stealing banks, not so.”

Meanwhile, gardaí were last night hunting for an armed gang that took the bank official’s wife hostage before forcing him to hand over €280,000.

The latest tiger kidnapping began at 11pm on Wednesday night when three men, at least one of whom was armed with a shotgun, entered the bank official’s home in Domville Drive, Templeogue, south Dublin. His wife was driven away yesterday morning. He was ordered to go to the AIB branch in Clondalkin where he works to obtain money. In the course of the raid, gardaí were alerted and put in place a response team.

Shortly after 12.45pm, the woman was released uninjured in Ballybrew, Enniskerry, Co Wicklow.

Gardaí refused to say when exactly they were notified and whether or not bank protocols for such raids were followed.

“We were on it, but in the absence of a sighting of the woman, we held back. The worse case scenario is to move in, make arrests and she’s killed. We have to know all parties are safe, before moving in,” a garda source said.

On foot of the incident, the Irish Bank Officials Association (IBOA) is to seek fresh discussions with gardaí and security managers of financial institutions to try to prevent further raids and protect its members.

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