A major gangland crime suspect linked to a series of tiger kidnappings was in custody in the Republic last night after two detectives opened fire on a fleeing car driver who attempted to mow them down.
The detectives, from the Garda's Organised Crime Unit (OCU), were described by a senior colleague last night as being "lucky to escape with their lives" after jumping out of the path of the speeding vehicle.
The OCU had been targeting suspected members of a crime gang based in west and north Dublin thought to have been involved in holding a number of people hostage for ransom over the past few years.
As part of an intelligence-led operation, several OCU squads were keeping a close watch on the movements of a number of suspect cars in the west Wicklow-Kildare area on Sunday.
Following surveillance, the units were ordered to intercept the two cars on the Naas Road outside the village of Ballymore Eustace.
The vehicles were brought to a halt but as the detectives approached the suspects the vehicle drove at speed towards them. The officers dived out of the way and fired two shots at the vehicle as it sped off in the direction of Naas.
The driver of the other car, a 30-year-old man from west Dublin, was arrested.
In a follow-up search, gardai recovered a small handgun at the roadside and several thousand euro in cash.
A number of rounds of ammunition for the firearm were also seized.
The detained man is suspected of being a key player in a gang that has been involved in serious crime, including tiger kidnappings in Dublin and surrounding counties.
Meanwhile, three people have been arrested following the kidnapping of a security van driver in Northern Ireland on Wednesday.
The cash-in-transit worker was taken from his west Belfast home, forced to get money and hand it over to his armed and masked assailants.
His partner and a son aged 16 were rescued in Co Monaghan after they were taken hostage and kidnapped from home that evening, with pillow cases covering their heads.
Police said yesterday that a man aged 35 was arrested in Belfast as well as a woman (64) and a man (63) in Newry, Co Down.