Young gardai facing gangland bomb risks
Army experts are shocked by dangerous lack of training
Published 01/08/2010 | 05:00
EXPERIENCED gardai are concerned that a lack of written instructions or guidelines for handling the increasing number of bombs being used by criminals could result in young gardai being injured or killed.
Officers who spoke to the Sunday Independent said there had been no written guidelines issued for several years. Roughly half of the 14,000-strong Force has only joined in the past five years and it is understood that none has received training in how to deal with a suspected bomb.
According to sources, young gardai have picked up pipe bombs, put them in the boots of their squad cars and even brought them back to a station as evidence.
The lack of garda training is also a danger to the public.
In a number of known instances, the public has not been cleared to anywhere near a safe distance from where bombs have been found.
New officers have also not been instructed that once a bomb is detected, an area of up to 250 metres around it should be cleared immediately. Pipe bombs found in Dublin have the capacity to kill within up to 50 metres and cause injury at further distances.
The Army has found that the pipe bombs are becoming increasingly dangerous.
The most dangerous are being manufactured by dissident republicans in Newry, Co Down and sold on to criminals in the Republic.
Dissident republicans in Limerick have also sold them to local criminals and to criminal gangs in the Traveller community.
The most dangerous are being used by Dublin gangs, and in the past year there has been an increase in the number of what are termed "viable" bombs.
Some 33 have been found and made safe by the Army's Ordnance Corps this year. Last year, the bomb disposal teams were called out almost 200 times and dealt with 61 viable "improvised explosive devices" (IEDs), as they term live bombs.
The Army ordnance teams have been shocked on several occasions when turning up to deal with bombs or bomb scares to find that gardai and members of the public are standing within the killing zone of the devices.
On a number of occasions there have been arguments, in one case where a garda inspector disagreed with a request by the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team to clear people from their homes in a street in Dublin where a bomb had been found. It was a live bomb and capable of causing death.
The concern among the Ordnance Corps has been such that they have set up a demonstration exercise which gardai from Kildare attended last week and which they hope to expand. It will be the first time that gardai have attended such a course since the Troubles in the North ended 13 years ago. During the Troubles there was always the risk of loyalists bombing civilian targets in the Republic, as they did on many occasions, causing multiple deaths.