Number of pipebombs dealt with this year up a third
Published 22/12/2012 | 05:00
Army bomb disposal teams have had to deal with an increase of more than a third in viable homemade explosive devices in the past year.
Ordnance officers handled 94 devices, mainly pipebombs, that were ready to explode, compared with 70 in 2011.
The huge increase is attributed to the number of finds made by gardai since January rather than those discovered planted at a targeted house or vehicle.
However, the number of call-outs for the teams dropped from last year's total of 237, which was a record since the height of the Troubles, down to 206.
A young boy was seriously injured when he picked up a pipebomb that had been left outside his home in Newtownmountkennedy, Co Wicklow, last June while a bomb team leader sustained minor wounds when making a device safe in Cork in March.
Other call-outs included 26 for the destruction of unstable chemicals, hazardous materials or pyrotechnics and 32 to deal with conventional munition destruction such as old grenades and historical projectiles found by the public.
In its end-of-year report, published yesterday, the Defence Forces said the troops had carried out 1,858 cash-in-transit escorts, 100 high security prisoner escorts and protection for explosives seven times.
Soldiers also provide year-round protection at Government Buildings, Aras an Uachtarain, the Central Bank and Portlaoise Jail, where dissident republican and gangland thugs are housed.
The Defence Forces have 440 personnel serving overseas in 17 missions, across 15 countries, over Christmas.
The main deployment of 360 personnel is spread over three locations in south Lebanon and troops at Camp Shamrock, the headquarters of the Irish/Finnish battalion will enjoy a traditional turkey dinner, prepared by Cpl Matthew Cannon, from Athlone, and his team of Irish chefs.
The Air Corps have completed 98 air ambulance missions so far this year, up from 78 in 2011.
The Naval Service completed 1,325 boardings and made 20 detentions of vessels for alleged infringements of fishing regulations.
The specialist Naval Service dive team were called out to 79 operations. They were also involved in the recovery of 17 bodies during searches at the request of the Coastguard and gardai.