Wednesday 22 November 2017

Councillor badly shaken after bomb found at his home

Councillor John O'Donnell
Councillor John O'Donnell

Greg Harkin

DETECTIVES investigating an attempted bomb attack on the holiday home of a county councillor are investigating a number of other incidents, the Irish Independent has learned.

Cllr John O'Donnell was elected as an independent councillor for the Letterkenny and Milford areas on Donegal County Council in May.

He was said to be 'shaken' by an incident at his holiday cottage in Downings in north Donegal.

The home was sealed off by gardai late on Thursday night after an anonymous phone call to the Samaritans in Derry.

Defence Forces technical experts arrived at the house yesterday morning to deal with the device.

Cllr O'Donnell, a businessman from Kilmacrennan, 10km from Letterkenny, broke down in tears when he was elected to the council.

His father had served as an Independent Fianna Fail county councillor until his death in a road traffic accident in the 1990s.

"John is extremely upset and distraught at this outrageous attack on democracy," said a spokesman for the councillor last night. "The matter is now with the gardai and we are satisfied that the gardai will successfully conclude their investigations."

Cllr O'Donnell runs a successful wool dealing business in the North West.

Garda detectives have told the county councillor to step up his personal security as a result of the incident. It is understood officers are now checking if attacks on other properties in the county are linked to the attempted bomb attack.

A number of cars were damaged in an incident at another home in north Donegal earlier this week.

A Defence Forces spokesman said the device was a viable pipe bomb capable of causing serious injury.

"The device was made safe at the scene, without the need for a controlled explosion and was taken away to a safe military location for further testing where it was later confirmed as a viable improvised explosive device (IED)," said the spokesman.

"All component parts and items of an evidential nature will be handed over to the gardai to assist them with their investigation into the incident."

Detectives were travelling to Finner Camp outside Ballyshannon last night to collect the bomb components for forensic examination. "Gardai are extremely worried about this incident," said a security source.

"While the phone call about the bomb was made to a number in Derry, we do not believe at this stage there is a Northern Ireland link to what happened, but there will be discussions with the PSNI about the source of the call."

The incident has shocked the Downings area, which is popular with tourists from the North.

Cllr O'Donnell's holiday home is one of three in a small development on the outskirts of the village.

Irish Independent

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