Gardaí believe they have made a significant breakthrough in their investigations into ATM robberies in the border region.

Three men have been arrested after gardaí foiled an ATM theft on Main Street in Virginia, Co Cavan in the early hours of this morning.

They say one man, aged 28, was arrested at the scene, while a 61-year-old man was arrested at a property near Moynalty in Co Meath.

A third man in his 20s was arrested this afternoon at the hotel where the attempted robbery occurred. He fled the scene on foot last night.

They are being held at Kells, Carrickmacross and Bailieborough garda stations under Section 50 of the Criminal Justice Act. They can be detained for up to seven days.

Detectives say a fourth man remains at large.

Gardaí say over €300,000 was found following a search of a property in Moynalty, Co Meath.

It is believed some of the money was concealed in black bags at the property.

A number of cars were also recovered.

Gardaí are appealing for information and are asking motorists who may have travelled on the Bailieborough to Virginia road between 1am and 3am to contact them.

Superintendent Gordon Englishby of Bailieborough Garda Station said gardaí believe there may be a link between the attempted robbery this morning and other robberies in recent months.

There have been more than a dozen ATM robberies on both sides of the border this year.

On 19 April, two ATMs were stolen in Kells, Co Meath.

Chair of Cavan County Council Shane P O'Reilly praised the garda operation, but said it showed the need for a 24-hour garda station in Virginia.

He said the town had grown in size and the people needed the service of a station 24 hours a day.

Eyewitness Eddie Matthews, who runs the pub across the road from the ATM, said he heard a commotion outside after 2am. 

"I thought it was the Leaving Cert students coming back from Cavan. Three or four minutes later I saw the digger up the street and a jeep was crashed," he said.

"There was a trailer in the middle of the road and the men had absconded at that stage" he added.

The garda helicopter was over Virginia this afternoon and there is a large garda presence in the area.

Gardaí are appealing for anyone who travelled the Virginia/Bailieborough Road and/or were in Virginia town between 1am and 3am this morning - particularly any driver with dashcam footage - to contact the incident room at Bailieborough Garda Station on (042) 9694570, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111 or any garda station.