Pipe bomb found before Blair visit

A controlled explosion of a pipe bomb was carried out in central Dublin today just hours before a visit by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, army officers said.

A controlled explosion of a pipe bomb was carried out in central Dublin today just hours before a visit by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, army officers said.

The device was found within the railings of a house in Merrion Square, close to the National Gallery.

An army bomb disposal team attended the scene and sealed off the area before detonating the device.

A spokesman for the army said its bomb disposal unit was called out early this morning to Merrion Square where a device had been found by gardai.

“An item was found inside the railings of a house near the National Gallery,” he said.

“It was a pipe bomb. The bomb disposal unit destroyed it by means of a controlled explosion.”

Gardai said they were alerted by a call from the Samaritans.

Superintendent Tom Conway said: “At 6.40am a call was received by the Samaritans to say that a suspicious device was placed at Merrion Square West.

“As a result of a search carried out by the gardai, a device was found at 88 Merrion Square West.

“The area was sealed off, a team was requisitioned and they carried out a controlled explosion.”

He said the area was now safe from the point of view of the public.

He added that two other locations were examined as part of the investigation but nothing had been found.

“Of course, it is a worrying development,” Mr Conway said.

“We would be carrying out inquiries to establish the source of this particular issue.”

He said the warning call would be studied to find the person or people responsible.

The incident occurred as Government officials planned for a visit from Tony Blair, who will meet Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in a bid to break the deadlock in the Northern Ireland peace process.

The process was plunged into crisis last week when elections to the Stormont Assembly scheduled for May 29 were postponed until the autumn.

Mr Blair will be greeted in Dublin’s Phoenix Park at around 4pm by Mr Ahern, Foreign Affairs Minister Brian Cowen and Justice Minister Micheal McDowell.

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