Controlled explosion on hoax hotel bomb

AN ARMY bomb disposal unit carried out a controlled explosion on a device found at a hotel in Waterford city on Saturday, just two days after a suspect explosive device was dealt with at a house in the city.

Scores of people, including staff and guests, were evacuated from the Woodlands hotel on the Dunmore Road after a hoax bomb, which had the wiring of a real device, was found in a ditch near the back door of the hotel early on Saturday evening.

A section of the Dunmore Road was closed and parts of the hotel were evacuated in the five hours up to 10pm on Saturday, until an army bomb disposal team from Cork carried out a controlled explosion on the device.

Investigating gardaí are treating the device as an “elaborate hoax”, while it is not known if the latest incident is related to an ongoing Traveller dispute in the city.

Garda Sergeant Larry Langton said last night: “A worker found something in the ditch... we were called.”

It was “possible” that the device was connected to the dispute, but “not a definite cert”, according to Sgt Langton.

Meanwhile, two people who were arrested in connection with a suspect device found at Birch Drive on September 25, have been released without charge.

Gardaí carrying out a planned search of a house at the estate found the explosive in the backyard of the premises. The army’s bomb disposal unit responded immediately and a controlled explosion of the suspect device was carried out nearby.

Gardaí in Waterford said that a man, aged 50, and a woman, 51, who were arrested in connection with the discovery, were released without charge on Friday evening, while “a file is to be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions”.

Garda sources believe that the device was planned for use in the dispute between members of the Travelling community in the city.

In excess of 100 incidents have been recorded since a dispute arose at a bout of bare knuckle boxing at the Six Cross Roads on July 12.

Two teenagers were shot at the height of the dispute, which has resulted in more than 50 arrests.

Jason Stokes, 14, was shot in broad daylight with about 50 pellets from a shotgun while helping his mother with shopping at their home in Ballybeg on August 14.

Less than four weeks later, on September 8, Bridget Delaney, 16, was shot at the halting site in Bilberry at about 10.30pm.

Both teenagers escaped serious injury and have since made good progress following treatment in hospital.

Chairman of the local Traveller accommodation consultative committee, Waterford city Councillor David Cullinane, said: “The Traveller families who are involved in this feud are bringing down the reputation of Waterford… I think it is absolutely appalling.”

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