A TERRORIST alert was sparked yesterday after a consignment of gas canisters was detected by customs and gardaí.
In a controlled delivery operation, gardaí seized 75 gas capsules — each the size of a small pen — at a house in Tallaght, west Dublin.
They arrested a 32-year-old Irish national at the scene on suspicion of possession of offensive weapons. Garda technical experts are examining the capsules to determine the type of aerosol they contained.
Sources said they appeared to contain either CS gas, typically used by police to control riot situations, or Mace, often used by women in self defence against attackers.
Gardaí currently use a similar device, called pepper spray, in public order situations.
It is understood that the Special Detective Unit (SDU), which investigates terrorist activity, has become involved in the investigation. However, gardaí have stressed that there is nothing to suggest, at this stage, that the man was involved in any terrorist activity.
Some sources have described the man as a “Walter Mitty” type individual.
Gardaí are investigating the possibility that the man may have been selling the capsules to women or other people, possibly taxi drivers, to be used in self defence against attackers.
Gardaí said the SDU is involved as a precautionary measure given the current heightened state of security with the imminent visits of Queen Elizabeth and US President Barack Obama.
The drama began when customs officers examined a package and were suspicious about its contents.
They contacted gardaí and a decision was made to set up a controlled delivery of the parcel to the address in Tallaght yesterday morning.
Officers from the detective unit in Tallaght Garda Station and members of Customs Enforcement Unit were involved.
They searched the house, recovered the package and arrested the man.
He was detained under section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act, which allows for up to three days in custody.
He is being questioned on suspicion of possessing offensive weapons.
Detectives are conducting background checks on the man and are examining his associations to see what he intended to do with the capsules.
The Garda Technical Bureau is examining the capsules.
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