A campaign of disruption to work at the National Children’s Hospital construction site in Dublin has intensified with a fake bomb placed there on Monday morning.
It is understood this led to an evacuation of workers after gardaí were called to the scene.
In turn the army bomb disposal unit travelled to the site to examine the “suspicious device”, which officers were concerned was viable.
It was later discovered that the bomb was a hoax.
The incident was the latest disruption at the site after around 20 arson attacks at the location during the summer months, which gardaí believe are linked.
Previously the building company involved in the construction work offered a €10,000 reward for any information that would lead to the arsonist being caught.
Signs offering the reward have been placed around the construction site but the culprit has not been identified and no arrests have been made.
“The most likely conclusion is that the person or persons who were responsible for Monday’s incident are also involved in starting the multiple fires at the site which have caused so much disruption,” a source said.
Gardaí have been working on a theory the incidents have been caused by someone working inside the massive site. The case is being investigated by officers from Kilmainham garda station.
“At approximately 11.50am on Monday, 20 September, 2021, gardaí were alerted to the discovery of a suspicious device at a premises on James’s Street in Dublin,” a Garda spokesman told the Irish Independent.
“The area was cordoned off and the services of the Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) was requested.
“The EOD team made the area safe and a technical examination was carried out.
“The device was deemed to be non-viable and the scene was declared safe shortly after 5pm,” he added.
In July an arson attack on the site led to concern among some construction workers after a fire alarm was sounded.
At the time, senior sources said gardaí were working on the theory the fire was deliberate and linked to a spate of other arson attacks that happened there in late May and early June.
In one incident a plastic bollard was set on fire and thrown down a lift shaft.
At the time, the Irish Independent reported that security at the site was strict, leading to suspicions somebody with legitimate access to the area may be behind the fires.
Senior sources said this still remains the “main line of enquiry” for gardaí.
There are around 1,500 construction workers working at the site at any one time in what is one of the biggest building projects undertaken by the State in recent years.
The opening of the hospital has been pushed back to the second half of 2024 and the final cost of the project, which will be at least €1.4bn, is still not known.
The original contract was due for completion in August 2022, the Oireachtas Health Committee was told in July.
At the time David Gunning, chief officer of National Paediatric Hospital Development Board (NPHDB), warned the new target is not guaranteed and is dependent on no delays caused to supplies from Brexit or the pandemic.
“The global pandemic, Covid-19, has disrupted the construction sector and all its supply chains both nationally and internationally. Unfortunately, the project has not been immune to this,” he said.
“In 2020, both the construction site of the new children’s hospital and Children’s Hospital Ireland at Tallaght were closed for a period, following the arrival of Covid-19 to Ireland.”