Belfast Telegraph

Probe as Garda loses machine gun after it falls from boot of car

By Staff Reporter

Irish police were investigating yesterday how a machine gun and ammunition fell out of the boot of an unmarked car belonging to an elite anti-terrorist unit.

Garda officers were in an Audi A6 estate, which was one of three vehicles leaving in convoy from an underground car park at their Dublin regional headquarters at Harcourt Square, when the incident took place on Tuesday afternoon.

The Audi had to travel over a ramp as it passed a security area at the complex.

As the car pulled out into heavy traffic on Harcourt Street, two members of the emergency response unit discovered that the vehicle's boot had opened and an official bag carrying the MP7 weapon along with hundreds of rounds of ammunition had fallen out.

Officers saw a woman picking up the bag and walking away.

But by the time the driver managed to turn the car in traffic, she had disappeared.

Gardai frantically searched the immediate area and also checked with Pearse Street and Kevin Street stations.

It was later established that the woman had jumped on a Luas and shortly afterwards handed in the bag at Store Street station.

Gardai said today that the bag had fallen out of the car at 5.30pm on Tuesday and was handed in 25 minutes later at 5.55pm.

It is understood the gun was not loaded at the time and nothing was taken from the bag.

Officers said that the members of the unit were going out on routine patrol in the city centre at the time of the incident.

Initial enquiries have already been started to establish how the bag with the weapon and ammunition fell out of the car.

Engineers from Audi have also been called in to examine the closing mechanism on the boot of the A6.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said that he was extremely concerned by the incident and a Garda investigation into the matter will also consider the security issues which have been raised.The Irish police watchdog, the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC), has also announced that it will investigate the "temporary loss" of the machine gun.

GSOC has described the investigation as a "public interest inquiry".

In a statement released yesterday afternoon, GSOC said that it had become aware of the incident through media reports.

It added that it had received no notification or referral from the Garda, or a complaint from a member of the public.

The statement said: "The commission is concerned about the reports in the media and the apparent lack of security that these reports suggest.

"The commission is of the view that an independent investigation is necessary to ensure public confidence in the civilian oversight of policing in a time of increased armed gardai in Dublin city in particular."

The Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission appealed for witnesses to the incident to get in touch.

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