The vehicle which contained a woman, five young children and a baby went on a terrifying high speed rampage across Cork
Gardaí say it was "a miracle" no-one was seriously injured after a van driver, whose vehicle contained a woman, five young children and a baby, went on a terrifying high speed rampage across Cork.
The van deliberately rammed three Garda patrol cars in a bid to escape.
Gardaí were first alerted to the dangerous driving incident by members of the public who were shocked at the driver's erratic behaviour on the busy Dublin-Cork motorway.
Onlookers became worried by the sight of an apparently very distressed woman in the vehicle.
The armed Regional Support Unit had to deploy a special 'stinger' device to stop the van after it had rammed Garda vehicles on three separate occasions.
Two Gardaí had to receive treatment for non-life threatening injuries after the incident which was finally brought to an end near Mahon in Cork late on Wednesday night.
None of the children, including the infant, were reported to have been injured in the prolonged bid to get the van to stop and to protect public safety.
The youngsters range in age from a baby to an 11 year old.
A total of five vehicles were damaged - with severe damage to two Garda patrol vehicles - as Gardaí described the rampage over almost 40km as "a highly dangerous incident".
"We are very lucky today that we are not dealing with serious injuries or even worse. This was an incredibly dangerous incident that members were forced to deal with," one Garda source said.
One of the Garda patrol vehicles may have to be written-off.
The Cork incident occurred just days after two Gardaí narrowly escaped injury when their patrol car was ambushed and rammed in Cherry Orchard in Dublin.
The alarm was raised by a member of the public who reported the van as being driven in a very bizarre manner on the Dublin-Cork motorway just outside Fermoy in north Cork shortly after 9.30pm.
Several people were also worried by the sight of what appeared to be a very distraught woman in the passenger seat of the van.
One motorist also reported that several children were also very distressed in the vehicle.
Gardaí intercepted the vehicle and were further shocked to realise the van contained a large number of children, including an infant.
Despite repeatedly signalling to the adult male driver to pull over and stop the van, the vehicle continued towards Cork city, often weaving between lanes and at high speed.
Near Mahon, Gardaí signalled to the driver to pull over but, instead, the man swerved and rammed a Garda patrol vehicle.
A short time later, the van suddenly stopped but when Gardaí attempted to interact with the driver, the Garda vehicle was rammed again.
Garda support units raced to the scene and, in a desperate bid to stop the van and ensure the safety of the children, two Garda patrol cars attempted to block the vehicle and prevent it from being driven off.
Both Garda vehicles - including an SUV operated by the armed RSU - were then rammed and the van sped off.
In a carefully planned operation, a 'stinger' device was deployed near Carr's Hill and the van was successfully brought to a halt.
A man in his 30s was arrested at the scene shortly after 10pm.
He was taken to the Bridewell Garda Station where he is being questioned under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984.
The man can be questioned for up to 24 hours.
His period of questioning had to be suspended several times on Thursday to allow for medical treatment.
It is understood that toxicology tests will likely prove crucial in the investigation.
All of the children were taken to Cork University Hospital (CUH) and given precautionary medical examinations but none were found to be injured.
A woman, the mother of the children, was also medically assessed but was uninjured though she was treated for shock.
Two Gardaí were treated for minor injuries as a result of their vehicles being rammed in Mahon.
Both were treated at CUH and were later discharged.
The children involved have been reunited with family members.
Gardaí stressed that all the officers involved are receiving support from their colleagues and local Garda management.
"The wider organisational supports of the Peer Support Service, Chief Medical Officer and 24hour counselling service have been provided if required."
Gardaí are to prepare a file for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and have appealed for anyone who witnessed the van movements to contact them.
"Anyone with any information in relation to this incident or video footage is asked to contact Anglesea Garda Station on (021) 452 2000, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111, or any Garda station," a spokesperson said.