Gardaí are investigating the origins of a suspected bomb threat to Apple’s European headquarters in Cork that saw thousands of staff evacuated from the firm’s three locations in the city yesterday.
Apple, which employs nearly 5,000 people across locations in Hollyhill, Model Farm Road, and Lavitt’s Quay, cleared all three sites yesterday morning after gardaí were alerted to a threatening email at approximately 8.30am.
Many staff at the Hollyhill headquarters on Cork’s northside — where the majority of Apple’s Cork workforce are based — left the site during the evacuation.
Staff leaving Hollyhill said they were not told the reason for the evacuation, and were only aware of a suspected bomb threat due to the news coverage of the warning.
Those leaving the site in their cars were instructed on the way out they would not be allowed to drive back into the facility’s car park until the search was concluded. As a result, cars returning to the headquarters lined the road approaching the Hollyhill site until Apple gave the all clear for staff to return to work.
Employees received word the evacuation notice was lifted shortly after 11.30am.
Meanwhile, a throng of staff from the Lavitt’s Quay facility gathered at the designated meeting point outside the front of Cork Opera House, while others took the opportunity to wander around the city, stopping for food, coffee, and, in some cases, a spot of shopping.
Apple management on the scene remained tight-lipped about the incident and refused to make a comment about the evacuation.
The majority of staff said they had been instructed not to talk to members of the press while others said they had no information to give.
“Even if I was allowed to say something, and I’m not, I couldn’t give any information anyway. We weren’t told what was happening, just that we needed to evacuate. We guessed it was a bomb scare but nobody has told us that,” said one employee at the Lavitt’s Quay facility who asked not to be named.
Gardaí concluded their searches at around 11:45am at which time they said they had found nothing suspicious. They would not divulge details of the communication received, describing it as a “security alert”.
Staff began to re-enter the building shortly after gardaí had stood down and were due to receive a debriefing about the situation from management.
Gardaí conducted a search of all three facilities, and no bomb disposal units were called to any of the locations. A spokesperson for the Defence Forces said that it had both a bomb disposal unit and an Engineer Specialist Search and Clearance team on standby to be deployed if requested by gardaí, but they were stood down at 12.10pm.
Apple declined to comment on the security scare or to outline the cost of the evacuation to the company in terms of lost productivity.
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