Belfast Telegraph

Two Northern Ireland men arrested after tourists driven away in bus hijacked at Dublin airport

From south to north... 90 minutes of mayhem
From south to north... 90 minutes of mayhem

By Ken Foy and Conor Feehan

Two men with links to Co Antrim were arrested after three tourists were driven away at high speed in a shuttlebus that was allegedly hijacked at Dublin Airport in the early hours of yesterday.

The incident led to a massive cross border chase.

Cousins John McDonagh (26) and Stephen McDonagh (25) who have an address in Navan, Co Meath, were arrested.

Both remained in custody in Carrickmacross Garda Station in Co Monaghan last night where they were being questioned about the unauthorised taking of a mini bus and suspected false imprisonment of three people.

John and Stephen McDonagh are based in Navan but also have links to Swords and Ballymun in the Dublin area, Co Cavan, and Ballymena in Co Antrim.

They were arrested after a manhunt that lasted for almost two hours in which a number of Garda and PSNI cars were rammed. The incident began when the three innocent passengers were sitting in a shuttle bus owned by the Carlton Hotel parked in front of Terminal 2, at 1am.

The tourists had arrived on a transatlantic flight late on Tuesday and had been due to take a connecting flight to a European destination, but missed this as a result of a delay.

Aer Lingus had planned to put them up in the Carlton Hotel, near Dublin Airport. The suspects are alleged to have got into the front of the bus as it waited with three people aboard.

The Colombian woman and a couple who are understood to be English were then driven off by the men. It was involved in a minor collision with a taxi as it left the airport before fleeing the scene of the collision.

The vehicle was then driven for more than 27km from the airport to a service station in Julianstown, Co Meath, near the City North Hotel off the M1 and the three people were told to get out of the vehicle.

They later told gardai that although they thought the driving on board was "erratic" they were not led to believe they were in any danger. A female tourist has already given gardai a detailed statement about what happened and officers are hoping to obtain more statements.

When they were let off near the City North Hotel they thought they had arrived at their designated hotel and asked to check-in, only to be told they had no booking. The three then decided to get a taxi back to the airport and contact Aer Lingus.

After eventually being brought to the right hotel, they were able to spend the night there and made their flight later yesterday.

As the tourists made their way back to the airport unharmed, gardai and the PSNI were faced with 90 minutes of mayhem.

The two men continued north in the bus and were located by gardai near Drogheda, in Co Louth, where a new garda patrol car was allegedly rammed off the motorway.

The bus then continued on the M1 where it drove north of Dundalk and then crossed the border into Northern Ireland.

In a statement the PSNI confirmed it "received a report from our colleagues in An Garda Siochana that a stolen transit van had been tracked crossing the border". "Officers observed the vehicle in Crossmaglen Square, and upon police entering the car park the transit van collided with the police vehicle causing damage to the front of the car," a spokesperson said. "The transit van then made off from the area and re-crossed the border."

No PSNI officers were injured.

The minibus then diverted back into Co Monaghan where officers were waiting.

A garda operation, involving the air support and the armed Regional Response Unit, then got underway, involving at least 12 patrol cars and specialist units.

The bus crashed after crossing south of the border but the two men escaped on foot and stole a small parked car from a farm while the smashed bus was left blocking the roadway.

The stolen car was intercepted near Castleblayney in Co Monaghan a short time later.

Before the suspects were arrested the stolen car had attempted to ram a garda vehicle.

No one was injured and the incident ended with the arrest of the suspects at around 2.30am.

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