A bankrupt developer and his young children were lucky to escape with their lives after a gunman opened fire on them in broad daylight, detectives believe.
Ger Killally, 42, a former Fianna Fail councillor and running mate of ex-taoiseach Brian Cowen, was driving from his luxury home in the townland of Shean, Edenderry, Co Offaly, on Thursday morning when he came under attack.
His two-year-old son and three-year-old daughter, as well as his father, were understood to be in his car with him at the time, around 10.40am.
A masked man got out from the passenger side of an Opel Astra and fired twice with a shotgun.
It is not thought the shots struck the car, and Mr Killally managed to flee the scene, only to crash into a ditch and overturn his Volkswagen Passat into a field during the panic. All four escaped any serious injury but were said to be extremely traumatised by the incident.
Investigating gardai confirmed they are hunting two men - the gunman and his accomplice, who was driving the silver-coloured Opel Astra with a 06-D registration plate. They have appealed for witnesses. "We are very fortunate that we are not dealing with the loss of life or serious injuries," said a Garda source. "This is being treated as a very serious incident."
A former Cathaoirleach of Offaly County Council, Mr Killally was estimated during bankruptcy proceedings in 2010 to have debts of more than 73 million euro.
Last year, he received a suspended three-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to stealing 18,000 euro of equipment from a shop he used to own in Rochfortbridge, Westmeath. The father of four was also handed 240 hours of community service for a fraud offence connected to the theft.
An auctioneer and developer who ran in the 2002 general election alongside political partner Mr Cowen, Mr Killally has been at the centre of a number of court cases in recent years. A man was charged with stalking him two years ago. The same year he was before the courts over an alleged 10 million euro land-scam deal.
Investigators have asked anyone who was in the vicinity of Shean between the hours of 9.30am and 10.40am on Thursday morning to get in contact with them. Anyone who saw either of the cars involved in the incident has also been asked to come forward.