Dissidents planned to bomb British army base during visit of Charles
A Dissident republican bomb plot foiled by gardaí may have seen explosive planted near a British army base north of the border.
Gardai fear that the Real IRA were planning an attack to coincide with the visit of Prince Charles and his wife Camilla.
However, they stressed that the operation leading to the arrest of four senior republicans has been ongoing for a long time.
Anti-terrorist detectives arrested the men and seized a sizeable quantity of homemade explosive, including fertiliser and sugar, and bomb component parts including a timer, during raids in Louth, Kildare, Dublin and Wexford on Tuesday night.
Security sources told the Irish Independent that the dissidents hoped to plant a large bomb near a British army base to mar the visit of Prince Charles and his wife Camilla to generate maximum publicity.
It is understood that the bomb-making operation had been under secret surveillance by gardaí for weeks but a decision was made to move in on Tuesday evening.
A large quantity of explosives was seized when officers swooped on a house and land at Dromiskin, County Louth, belonging to a veteran republican who was arrested there with a second man.
Raw materials for explosives including fertiliser and sugar were found with bomb component parts hidden in eight barrels buried on the land.
"At a second location in County Wexford a massive bomb was being built which intelligence suggests was to be used in the North in the coming week," a source said.
Gardaí uncovered the components of the bomb at a house in Courtown, which included 200 lbs of homemade explosive and a timer power unit (TPU) designed to detonate the device.
"The component parts were made safe at the scene and the explosive material was destroyed by controlled explosion," a Defence Forces spokesperson said. The scene was declared safe at 3am yesterday.
Members of the Special Detective Unit (SDU) also found a timer power unit in a search of a company premises in Maynooth.
In an unrelated operation, two dissident republicans from Limerick were arrested in Leitrim after gardaí discovered a handgun and two pipe bombs.
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said that "threats to the security of the State are an ongoing issue". She said it was "the reality" that there were people out there who meant to do harm to the royal family.
"Obviously it's a transformed situation compared to what it was," she said.
"In relation to Prince Charles, clearly we have had a very successful royal visit not so long ago, where the gardaí did an excellent job, and basically we want to ensure that Prince Charles has an excellent visit here."