Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald yesterday praised the actions of gardaí after they confiscated two viable bombs and components parts of two other explosive devices belonging to dissident republicans.
While it is not clear if either find was part of a plot to target Prince Charles, who visits Ireland with his wife Camila next week, Ms Fitzgerald said she expected the couple to have “a very positive experience” and said gardaí were alert to any security threat.
The seizure of component parts of bombs in counties Wexford and Louth yesterday and the arrest of four men, one a suspected terror chief, was the result of a long-running garda security operation. Senior sources were reluctant to comment on whether the suspects had planned an attack on Prince Charles, but confirmed the timing of the operation was “not a coincidence”.
The discovery of two bombs in Co Leitrim later on Wednesday was the result of good luck and alert gardaí, who were conducting traffic enforcement duties. When they searched a car, they uncovered a pistol and suspected component parts for explosives. Two occupants in their 20s were arrested.
An analysis conducted by an army bomb disposal team at the scene in Manorhamilton determined that the parts were actually “viable improvised explosive devices”. The army explosive ordnance disposal team rendered the devices safe.
Other army teams examined two other finds in Courtown, Co Wexford and Dromiskin, Co Louth uncovered by the garda security operation.
A Defence Forces spokesman said these were component parts of explosive devices, both of which were made safe. Garda sources said a 60-year-old man arrested in that operation was detained on suspicion of directing terrorism, while the three younger men, aged in their 20s, were arrested on suspicion of membership of an unlawful organisation and possession of explosives.
The 60-year-old is considered a leader in dissident grouping Óglaigh na hEireann. He was previously a member of the Provisional IRA and the Real IRA.
Ms Fitzgerald declined to comment on the specific arrests, but praised the garda operation.
“I want to commend the gardaí for their ongoing activities on dissidents in this country,” she said.
She said the vast majority of people welcomed the visit of Prince Charles.
“I expect Prince Charles will have a very positive experience here and clearly the gardaí are alert to any security issues and will deal with any security issues that will arise,” she said.
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