Army ready for pipe-bomb blitz
Dissident republicans, and settled and Traveller gangs have been blamed for the recent proliferation of pipe-bomb attacks, which gardai and the Army fear will inevitably cause death and serious injury.
The Army bomb squad has answered 69 call-outs since the start of the year and it seems likely 2011 could surpass the record number of call-outs of 198 last year.
Last week, Army ordnance officers were called out to three separate pipe-bomb incidents. Last Monday, a device stashed at the side of the Dart line under the pedestrian bridge at the West Pier in Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin, was made safe.
It is believed it was to be used in a feud attack, possibly Traveller-related. The bomb disposal unit from Cathal Brugha Barracks removed the device for analysis.
Another device was found near the Wellington Monument at Summerhill Road in Trim, Co Meath, last Thursday.
Gardai initially feared it might have been an attempt to blow up a symbol of British and Irish military history as some form of protest against the royal visit. However, it is now believed the device had been left for a crime gang to collect. The Army Ordnance team made it safe.
Bomb disposal officers also made safe another device discovered last Friday in Swords, Co Dublin. Gardai said all the bombs had been paid for in advance and the sellers left the devices in out-of-the-way locations to be collected. The majority of the call-outs for the Army Ordnance Corps were in the Crumlin-Drimnagh area and the crime-ridden areas of west and north Dublin.
Outside Dublin, the majority of pipe-bomb incidents involved feuds inside the Traveller community.
One innocent family was shocked when a bomb exploded outside their house in Rossmore Drive, Ballyfermot, Dublin, on March 29.
The bomb, described as "fairly sophisticated", exploded at 2am underneath the family's car, which was parked outside the house.
The majority of the bombs dealt with by the Army were easily manufactured metal tubes filled with powder taken from shotgun cartridges.
However, some were far more sophisticated and devices with timers -- manufactured by republicans heavily involved in crime -- have been found in west Dublin.
The majority of pipe-bomb call-outs, however, have been hoaxes. Of the 69 call-outs this year, only 10 have been to defuse viable devices.
Most worryingly for the security forces on both sides of the Border was the discovery that dissidents have smuggled a large quantity of plastic explosive, as lethal as the Semtex once used by the Provisional IRA, on to the island.
It was this type of explosive that was used in the car bomb that killed PC Ronan Kerr in Fermanagh. So far, gardai have recovered 120kg of the explosive, but it is believed that terrorists have access to a larger stockpile.