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Gardai thwarted 'pathetic' plots by thugs

Gardai thwarted dozens of minor plots to disrupt the Queen's visit -- and embarrass the country -- including a plan by three Mayo men to pelt the royal cavalcade with rotten goose eggs.

About a dozen bomb alerts turned out to be hoaxes and were very quickly dealt with by the Army Ordnance Corps, though the device found in the luggage rack of a bus from Ballina was real. About 30 people were taken off the bus when it was stopped by gardai at Maynooth at around 11pm last Monday evening.

The device was described as "viable" by the Army and contained explosives. Gardai said they believed it was intended to be exploded at or near the Queen's routes around Dublin.

They also believe it was placed on the bus by dissident republicans belonging to the group calling itself the "Continuity" IRA and was to be collected by other members of the small terror group waiting for the bus in Dublin.

There was a serious danger to the 30 innocent passengers on board the bus, gardai said.

The three men arrested in Dublin city centre with two dozen rotten eggs wrapped in a tricolour also travelled from Ballina to Dublin by train last Wednesday, and were stopped and searched by gardai at the Queen's route on Dame Street.

They also had copies of the paper Saoirse, which is published by Republican Sinn Fein. No charges were brought and they were released. They admitted storing the eggs for a month.

The mini-riots that took place in Dublin involved members of the three dissident groups: Republican Sinn Fein, Eirigi and the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, along with what gardai described as a "gouger" and "druggie" element, many wearing tracksuits with the logos of English Premier League soccer teams.

Several of the noisy protesters on Parnell Street when the Queen visited the Garden of Remembrance last Tuesday afternoon were clearly intoxicated on drink or drugs or both. The group of around 80 tried unsuccessfully to sing rebel songs including the Young Irelander song, A Nation Once Again, but could only manage half of the chorus and none of the verses.

About 60 members of Republican Sinn Fein staged a protest at Dorset Street at the same time and were joined by a larger number of local criminals who threw fireworks, bottles and rubbish at gardai.

"They're just pathetic," said one observer, "they couldn't even organise a proper riot."

During the three days in Dublin, gardai made more than 40 arrests and 18 were brought before the courts on public order offences.

Three Dublin men, including two brothers, were arrested in Clane and Robertstown, Co Kildare, last Thursday morning in connection with what gardai described as dissident republican activity.

A stolen car was also seized. Gardai believed there was an attempt by members of the Real IRA to use a car in another hoax bomb alert as the Queen visited the National Stud.

Eleven men from the North were arrested as they got off the Belfast train last Thursday when they were found to be carrying fireworks, steel balls, stones, bottles and other missiles shortly before the Queen's visit to the Convention Centre on the Quays. They were held overnight at Store Street garda station.

The massive operation to protect the Queen was co-ordinated in Dublin from a purpose-built command and control office in Harcourt Square under the direction of Dublin Metropolitan Commissioner Mick Feehan.

It was the first time the new centre was used and the Commissioner's team was able to monitor the Queen's cavalcade as it moved across Dublin and focus resources to deal with the dissidents who attempted to disrupt the visit.

The scenes of the minor rioting in Dorset Street last Tuesday and around Dublin Castle on Wednesday night were all covered by garda CCTV cameras and those rioters who were not arrested will be identified by local gardai and arrested in coming weeks, sources said.

According to gardai the Continuity and Real IRA groups in Dublin are heavily involved in the drugs trade and in extortion of money from other drug dealers.

Sunday Independent