High Noon, Athy
In the late 1980s several prominent armed gangs had begun targeting banks within a hundred-mile radius of Dublin. The Gardaí were determined to stop them, and set up an undercover unit, the Emergency Response Unit, to gather intelligence on future planned robberies.
When, in January 1990, an armed gang attempted to rob the bank in Emily Square, Athy, the Gardaí had armed personnel from the Emergency Response Unit in place. Inside the bank staff and customers were held hostage; outside, the bank was surrounded.
The shoot-out that followed resulted in the death of one gang member, and several serious injuries. It was subsequently revealed that the gang had not fired any of their weapons.
Two of the hostages – bank porter Noel Reddy, and bank customer Mary Prior tell their own stories of the ordeal. Paul Williams, crime journalist and author, who covered the story at the time, provides the wider context.