Larry Keane, the £2,000 payment and the 980lbs of explosive
LARRY Keane, the man murdered in Athy, was a former Irish soldier who was jailed for fifteen years by the Special Criminal Court in 1998 for having a massive car bomb which was destined for an attack by dissident republicans on a target in England which gardai believe was the Aintree Grand National of that year.
Keane, a father of six, from Cloney, Athy pleaded guilty in December, 1998 to having 980 pounds of an improvised explosive mixture, a timer power unit, an electrical detonator, two improvised booster tubes and an improvised detonating cord with intent to endanger life or to enable another person to do in the State or elsewhere , at Dun Laoghaire port on April 2nd, 1998.
The court was told that Keane was offered two thousand Irish pounds to drive the car bomb to England and was paid 300 pounds sterling in advance.
Keane was arrested by the Emergency Response Unit at 5.05 am on April 2nd as he waited to board the HSS ferry for Wales.
The court heard that the ERU was on surveillance duty after receiving confidential information about the transportation of explosives. The home made explosives were packed into a silage bag which filled the boot of the stolen red BMW car Keane was driving.
Keane was wearing a wig and carrying a false passport and false driving licence when arrested. Dun Laoghaire port was evacuated and the ferry sailed fifteen minutes earlier than scheduled because of the car bomb which was defused by an Army bomb disposal team.
A timer power unit was located under the front passenger seat and connected to two detonating cords which led through the car to the booster tubes in the boot which were filled with commercial explosives.
The court heard that the massive car bomb was twice the size of the bomb used by the Real IRA in Omagh in August 1998 which killed 29 people and injured more than 300.
The court was also told that the BMW had been stolen in the Rathgar area of Dublin and had been specially adapted with extra springs so that the boot of the car would not appear lower when loaded with the bomb.
Keane was recruited by dissident republicans while working as orderly in Portlaoise Prison where he was serving a sentence for assault. Keane had served in the Irish Army from 1974 to 1980. He had been a driver of armoured cars, tanks and jeeps and had suffered post traumatic stress disorder after an incident in the Lebanon in 1980.
Garda believe that the massive car bomb was destined for the Aintree racecourse where it was to be used for an attack on the Grand National. It was one of a serious of massive car bomb attacks planned and carried out by dissident republicans in the wake of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. These culminated in the Omagh massacre, following which the dissidents came under ferocious pressure from security forces on both sides of the border.