Gardaí in Limerick have declared a bomb alert at one of the oldest bank buildings in the country to be "a hoax",writes David Raleigh.
The bomb threat was made in a phone call to Henry Street garda station in the city around 3.30pm this afternoon.
The caller stated there was a bomb in the former Bank of Ireland Limerick headquarters, at 94 O'Connell Street, which is currently disused.
Uniformed garda personnel and members of the armed Emergency Response Unit responded to the building and carried out a search.
Nothing was found in the search and the building was declared safe.
Surrounding buildings were evacuated as a safety precaution.
The former Bank of Ireland headquarters in Limerick, which opened in 1827 and closed in 2012, survived the Famine, the War of Independence and the Irish Civil War, and is regarded by historians as a architectural gem.
"It's a complete hoax," said a spokesperson at Henry Street garda station.
The station received the alert over the phone.
Yesterday around 20 gardaí in the city responded to a bomb threat - which was emailed from an automated system - at Milford National School.
The school and surrounding buildings were evacuated as a precaution.
The alert was one of several similar bomb scares at schools around the country and in the UK.
Superintendent Derek Smart, Henry Street garda station, appealed for anybody with information about the hoax call.
Appealing for information, he also warned important garda resources were been wasted investigating such hoax calls.
"We're treating this very seriously," Supt Smart said.
He said "certain resources" would "kick in" when bomb alerts were made, and that these garda resources were been wasted on hoax calls.
"It also puts people working in these buildings under severe stress and strain when they're told there's a bomb," he added.
Supt Smart said Gardaí would "do everything in our power" to catch the person or persons behind the hoax.
He said Gardaí were also investigating the hoax call which referred to a bomb at Milford National School.
That call was heard in a voicemail to the Henry Street garda station last Tuesday.
He said he did not believe both incidents were linked, adding that today's incident may be the work of a "copycat".
"The circumstances appear to be different. There was a voicemail left at the station with a male automated caller's voice, and the caller today was a female person," he said.
Anyone with information can contact Henry Street garda station on 061-212400.