The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs says he is embarrassed that explosive packages sent to major transport hubs may have come from Dublin.
The packages that arrived at Waterloo railway station and offices at Heathrow and London City Airports on Tuesday were posted with Irish stamps and had Dublin as the return address, prompting Gardaí to join the investigation.
“I read reports about that as it was breaking yesterday with dismay really, a combination of anger and embarrassment,” Simon Coveney said on Wednesday appearing on the Floating Voter podcast.
“I think the perception in the UK of this will be one of bemusement, as to why anyone would want to send any small explosive devices into London from Dublin, the fact that that could happen and come from Dublin is something I and many other people will be uncomfortable with.
“Everyone needs to isolate and criticise that kind of warped thinking for what it is, which is unhelpful on every level.
“I think any decent thinking person needs to reject utterly, the kind of warped thinking that results in someone sending an explosive device or something that can catch fire in the post into anywhere including transport hubs.”
Security sources suggested there may have been a “concerted attempt” to make the parcels appear as though they were posted from Ireland.
It was put to Mr Coveney that strained relations between the UK and Ireland over Brexit negotiations may influenced the sender.
“It’s important not to confuse warnings that the fallout from Brexit can create a corrosive atmosphere and create potential security concerns, that is in any way condoning that kind of behaviour,” Mr Coveney said.
“Whoever did this has not assisted the political process that is underway here, in fact they’ve done the opposite.
“Those of us working in politics need to find a way of resolving the outstanding Brexit issues through negotiation and protecting the relationship between Ireland and the UK that have become so positive over the last twenty years since the Good Friday Agreement.”- Press Association
Latest: British counter-terror police are yet to identify a suspect or motive for the explosive packages sent to major transport hubs in London yesterday.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon, the senior national coordinator for counter terrorism-policing, said no link had been made with dissident republicans at this early stage.
"We are talking to our Irish counterparts but at the moment there's nothing to indicate motivation of the sender or ideology, so I cannot confirm at the moment if it's connected to any Ireland-related terrorist groups," he said.
Asked whether there could be more packages, he said: "They were sent through the postal system so we are not ruling that out.
"But there's no indication there's any more."
Forensics teams are looking for traces of DNA and fingerprints in an effort to find the sender.
Mr Haydon stressed they are "small incendiary devices" which "are not designed to kill individuals".
But, he said, they do show "some degree of sophistication".
"Somebody has some knowledge - either training, capability - of how to make a device," he added.
Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan said in a statement that he "has been briefed on the events and the Garda authorities are in close and continuous contact with their UK counterparts in relation to the ongoing investigations, which are still at a very early stage."
Meanwhile, the terror threat level in the UK will not be raised, despite three explosive devices being sent to London transport hubs, Northern Irish Secretary Karen Bradley has told the Commons.
Speaking during Northern Irish questions, DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds asked whether there is "any prospect of the security threat level being raised and has she any more information on the origin of those devices?".
Ms Bradley said the threat level "from Northern Ireland-related terrorism" remained "severe".
She added: "At the moment there's no suggestion that will change.
"I had a conversation with the Chief Constable this morning. In terms of the specific incident it's early days of an on-going investigation and it wouldn't be appropriate for me to say anything further at this stage."
Gardaí are assisting Counter Terror Police in the UK after small explosive devices were found at major transport hubs in London yesterday.
Three letters were discovered at office buildings at Heathrow and London City airports, as well as Waterloo train station yesterday evening.
London Met said “small improvised explosive devices” were found in the A4 postal bags, with at least two of the packages having Irish stamps on them.
Security sources emphasised investigators were keeping an open mind, and added that the devices did not appear to be very sophisticated.
British counter-terror police warned workers to be vigilant for further suspicious packages.
Scotland Yard said last night that images of two of the packages have been circulated to mail sorting offices and transport workers.
Following reports the packages had been sent with Irish stamps, a statement from the Gardaí said: "An Garda Siochana are assisting the Metropolitan Police with their inquiries."
Scotland Yard said it was working "to ensure the safety of the public and staff working at transport hubs and mail sorting offices", and added: "We have shared images of the exterior packaging of two of the devices to aid staff in identifying a potentially suspicious package."
All the packages were A4-sized white postal bags containing yellow Jiffy bags and appeared capable of igniting a small fire when opened, the Metropolitan Police said.
Widely reported images appeared to show the partially burned package destined for The Compass Centre at Heathrow, and another sent to Waterloo.
The stamps appeared to be ones issued by An Post for Valentine's Day 2018, featuring a heart motif and the words "Love Eire N".
Both senders' addresses were given as Dublin, with the one addressed to Waterloo appearing to add Bus Eireann.
Bus Eireann said police had not been in touch, with a spokeswoman saying: "Bus Eireann are currently not aware of this and we have no further comment."
Scotland Yard said officers are treating the incidents as linked and are keeping an open mind regarding motives.
No-one has been injured in the three incidents and no arrests were made.
Officers first received a report of a suspicious package at The Compass Centre, a building near Heathrow Airport's boundary, shortly before 10am.
"The package was opened by staff at the building, causing the device to initiate," Scotland Yard said.
"This resulted in part of the package burning."
The building was evacuated as a precaution and specialist officers attended the scene to make the device safe.
A Heathrow spokesman said flights and passengers were not affected by the incident.
British Transport Police were later called to reports of a suspicious package in the post room at Waterloo station at 11.40am.
The package was not opened and specialist officers secured the device.
The station was not evacuated and trains continued to run as normal but cordons were in place outside on Cab Road.
Shortly after midday, officers were also called to a report of a suspicious package at Aviation House at London City Airport.
The package was not opened, the building was evacuated and specialist officers made the device safe. The building reopened.
A spokesman for London City Airport said Aviation House was a staff-only building about three minutes from the terminal and no flights or passengers were affected.
PA & Digital Desk