Irish minister held in hostage robbery

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The Independent Online

An Irish Government minister was today held hostage at gunpoint during a robbery at a hotel and golf resort, the Garda confirmed.

Minister for European Affairs Dick Roche was one of several members of staff and guests held by three gunmen at the Marriott Hotel at the Druids Glen complex in Co Wicklow.



The raiders escaped with an undisclosed sum of money in a dark coloured car, the Garda said.





One of the men was armed with a sawn-off shotgun.

"They made their getaway in a darkly coloured car - possibly a Volvo," a Garda spokesman said.



No shots were fired and nobody was injured during the course of the incident, which happened at around 9.30am.



Several thousand euro is understood to have been taken in the robbery.









Father-of-four Mr Roche had a gun held to his back at the Co Wicklow hotel complex, his spokesman confirmed.

The 61-year-old was with his official driver at the time and both were shaken by the incident.



"Mr Roche was returning from a daily swim at the hotel's pool when he was approached from behind and had a gun shoved into his back.



"He was forced into a room with his driver and other staff members.



"Obviously he is shaken by the incident but is currently helping gardai with their inquiries," added the spokesman.



The Druids Glen Golf Resort is located just 30 minutes south of Dublin.



Known as the Augusta of Europe, the resort is home to one of Ireland's leading golf clubs and hosted the Irish Open in the late 1990s.









Mr Roche was approached by the gunman in the main lobby of the Marriott Hotel and the raiders may not have recognised him, his spokesman said.

A total of six people, including Mr Roche and his official driver, were taken hostage at gunpoint, the Garda said.



Mr Roche had been leaving for an engagement in the European Commission offices in Dublin city centre to debate Ireland's future in Europe following last week's summit of EU leaders in Brussels.



After last year's general election, Mr Roche was dropped from the Cabinet and appointed Minister for European Affairs with responsibility of promoting the Lisbon Treaty.

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