'Absolutely despicable act' - Postal sorting office evacuated after discovery of suspicious package
The Army’s Bomb Squad have made safe the viable improvised explosive device recovered from a Limerick An Post office this morning.
The device has now been handed over to gardai who are continuing to liaise with their colleagues in the UK as part of the investigation.
In a statement the Defence Forces said: “This morning, following a request from An Garda Síochána, an Army Bomb Disposal Team was tasked to investigate a suspect package in the An Post Collection Centre, Docklands in Limerick City where they arrived on scene at 9.50am.
“On arrival a cordon was established and the building was evacuated for the duration of the operation. A viable improvised explosive device contained in a plastic envelope was identified and made safe. The device was then handed over to An Garda Síochana for further investigation and the scene was declared safe.
“Should members of the public encounter suspicious items, or hazardous substances, they are advised to maintain a safe distance and inform An Garda Síochána.”
Gardai have released images of the package, which appear to show a white coloured plastic envelope addressed to a location in London.
The envelope features the 'Love Eire' heart stamps and an address to Charring Cross, with the letters 'RTS' pointing at the circled return to sender address: 'Ireland tourism Dublin'.
Gardaí believe the suspicious package discovered this morning at a postal sorting office in Limerick is the fifth incendiary device sent by dissident republicans to the UK.
Gardai said they are investigating the parcel which was discovered at the An Post facility on the Dock Road, Limerick at around 6am this morning.
They said the parcel appears to be identical to parcels discovered earlier this month in London and Glasgow and that An Garda Síochána are continuing to liaise with the UK authorities.
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said the sending of a suspected letter bomb was "an absolutely despicable act".
Mr Flanagan also linked the finding of the suspect package in Limerick to the recent discovery in the UK of explosive devices posted in letters.
He said that the incident is "a dreadful consequence of the uncertainty surrounding Brexit where in the context of the heightened tensions in Northern Ireland, on the island of Ireland - that people have taken it upon themselves to send letter bombs – an absolutely despicable act."
Mr Flanagan noted that four similar letters arrived in Britain around two weeks ago and intelligence had suggested that there had been five.
He said: "This could well be the fifth. As yet it’s unconfirmed but I understand gardaí are actively engaged on the ground in Limerick".
Mr Flanagan told RTÉ Radio's Today with Seán O'Rourke that he has reason to believe today's discovery is linked to those in the UK.
He also said: "I have to say that the sending of incendiary devices or letter bombs like that is a totally unacceptable act and I would hope that those responsible could certainly be brought to justice.
"I know that gardaí are actively engaged as we speak."
Asked if there are similarities between what found in Limerick and what found in UK, Mr Flanagan said: "I understand that to be the case with particular reference to the type of postage stamp that was used."
A Garda spokesman said: "Shortly after 6am Gardai in Henry street received a report of a suspect package at the An Post sorting office, Dock Road, Co Limerick. The building has been evacuated and the army EOD team have been notified.
"No other information is available at this time."
Packages containing homemade explosive devices were found at London’s City and Heathrow airports and Waterloo station on March 5 and at the University of Glasgow in Scotland on March 6. None of the devices exploded and no injuries were reported.
Last week a media outlet in Northern Ireland received a claim of responsibility for the four devices and said a fifth has not been discovered.
In a joint statement the London’s Metropolitan Police and Police Scotland said: "The claim was allegedly made on behalf of the IRA".
The packages all bore stamps from the Irish Republic and Dublin as a return address.
The suspect device found in Heathrow Airport briefly ignited and burned part of the packaging, but no one was injured.