A bank official's wife was held hostage this morning while the official, who works at the AIB branch in Clondalkin, was forced to hand over a large sum of money.

AIB Clondalkin Village - Bank worker forced to hand over money

Detectives believe that three men were involved in the robbery and they may have escaped with as much as €300,000 in cash.

At least one of the men was armed with a shotgun.

The bank official's wife was taken from her home in Domville Drive in Templeogue in Dublin at 11pm last night in a black Volkswagen Golf car.

Her husband, who holds a senior position at AIB in Clondalkin, was ordered to obtain a sum of money from the bank and await instructions.

He later left the bank with the money and his wife was released at Ballybrew Quarry in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow, this afternoon.

Gardaí say 'a comprehensive response team' was subsequently put in place.

Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern has said gardaí are following a definite line of inquiry in the case.

Mr Ahern said he has been in touch with the Garda Commissioner in relation to the events.

Asked if agreed protocols were followed in the case, the minister said he did not want to go into the details - but said whenever they have been followed in the past they have worked.

The minister said that it was easy to talk about protocols but these were traumatic cases and when family members were put in jeopardy it was difficult for those involved.

An incident room has been set up at Terenure Garda Station and anyone with information is asked to contact them on 01-6666400, the Garda Confidential Line 1800-666111 or any garda station.

Dermot Ahern speaking this afternoon said the Government may have to consider making banks charge for money dispensed from ATMs, in order to encourage people to use cards rather than cash.

Mr Ahern made his comments in reference to today's kidnapping.

He said a huge amount of effort by the banks, Irish Bank Officials Association and gardaí had gone into preventing this type of crime.

He said that Ireland is the only country in Europe that does not charge for money dispensed from ATMs.

The minister said that more cash being used by people means there has to be more cash in the system and in the banks, which leads to targeted robberies.