Sunday 20 October 2019

'IRA' claim responsibility for 'love bomb' packages - and say one is not located

The packages had An Post stamps with the words ‘Love’ and ‘Eire’
The packages had An Post stamps with the words ‘Love’ and ‘Eire’

Breda Heffernan and Kevin Doyle

The Metropolitan Police and Police Scotland said they have been informed that there are five 'love bomb' devices - and not the four that have been located.

The police forces said they are aware of the claim of responsibility for the devices that were received at three buildings in London and at the University of Glasgow on 5 and 6 March.

A spokesperson said that the claim was received on Monday March 11 by a media outlet in Northern Ireland outlet using a recognised codeword.

The claim was allegedly made on behalf of the ‘IRA’. The group is also referred to as the New IRA.

"The investigations into these devices continue and relevant enquiries are being made in relation to the claim that has been made," they said. "Given the packages received last week bore similarities to devices sent in the past which were linked to dissident groups associated with Northern Ireland-related terrorism, officers were already looking at this as a line of enquiry. However, we continue to keep an open mind and enquiries continue.

The representative said that they are also aware that those claiming responsibility have indicated five devices were sent.

An Post stamps
An Post stamps

"At this time, only four devices have been recovered," they said. "Extensive advice has already been issued to relevant businesses and sectors to be vigilant for and report suspicious packages to police. This advice was previously sent to armed forces personnel and is being reiterated again in light of this claim.

"We continue to urge the public to remain vigilant and report anything suspicious to police."

Suspicious activity can be reported by calling the confidential phone line 0800 789 321 or filling in a secure form at www.gov.uk/act. In an emergency always dial 999.

Responding to the development, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan described posting the devices as a “reckless and cowardly attack on the entire community”.

“I condemn in the strongest possible terms the people who carried out this act,” he said.

“We must work together to reject those isolated groups who would discard the accomplishments of the peace process for all communities on these islands for their own narrow objectives. Their futile agenda will not succeed.”

He said the attack would “strengthen our resolve to double our efforts to build a truly peaceful future for the people of Northern Ireland”.

An Garda Síochána and their counterparts in Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom are working closely together to counteract the persistent threat that these people represent.

“I spoke to the Home Secretary yesterday and conveyed my utter disgust at these actions. They are the actions of those who are without any vision for a peaceful future on Northern Ireland. I also reaffirmed to the Home Secretary our deep commitment to working closely with our colleagues in Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom,” Mr Flanagan concluded.

Meanwhile, gardai said that they are continuing their investigation and are liaising with the PSNI and Police Scotland to determine who sent the parcel bombs.

It's understood that gardai believe that the new IRA are the most likely suspect, but they have not ruled out the possibility of a lone suspect with no political affiliations.

On Tuesday, 5 March, at approximately 09:55am the Met Police received a report of a suspicious package at The Compass Centre, Nelson Road, Hounslow. The package was opened by staff at the building, causing the device to initiate. This resulted in part of the package burning.

"No one was injured. The building was evacuated as a precaution. Specialist officers attended and made the device safe. The Compass Centre is not within Heathrow Airport, and flights were not affected by this incident," the Met said.

"At approximately 11:40am British Transport Police were called to reports of a suspicious package in the post room at Waterloo Station. The package was not opened. Specialist officers attended and made the device safe. No one was injured.

"The station was not evacuated however cordons were erected in a small area on Cab Road, outside the station. Train services were not affected.

"At approximately 12:10am police were called to a report of a suspicious package at offices at City Aviation House, Royal Docks, Newham. Staff were evacuated from the building as a precaution. The package was not opened and no one was injured. Specialist officers attended and made safe the device. Flights to and from the airport were not affected.

On Wednesday, 6 March, a suspicious package was received at the University of Glasgow. The package was not opened and no one was injured. The emergency services were alerted and several buildings within the estate were evacuated as a precaution. Specialist officers subsequently carried out a controlled explosion of the device.

Detectives from the Met's Counter Terrorism Command are leading the investigation into the three packages received in London, whilst Police Scotland, under direction from the Crown, is leading the investigation into the package received at the University of Glasgow. Both investigation teams are working closely together to share any information or intelligence that could assist their respective inquiries. Enquiries continue. No arrests have been made."

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News