Monday 19 March 2018

Provisional IRA activist linked to hotel bomb find

Gardai leave the Finnstown House Hotel in Lucan where a viable device was found in a parked car at the hotel's car park. Photo: El Keegan
Gardai leave the Finnstown House Hotel in Lucan where a viable device was found in a parked car at the hotel's car park. Photo: El Keegan

Tom Brady Security Editor

ANTI-terrorist police on both sides of the Border are investigating a possible link between a former member of the Provisional IRA army council and a 66lb bomb found in a Dublin hotel car park.

Officers now believe that the bomb, which was in a beer keg, had been left in the back of a car and was intended for use against a security force target in Northern Ireland.

They think the car, with its doors unlocked, had been left for collection in the car park attached to the Finnstown House hotel in Lucan, west Dublin, on Saturday night.

But both the gardai and the PSNI are intrigued by the use of a Northern Ireland registered car in the transportation of the bomb.

One senior officer told the Irish Independent last night: "It is very strange that, if the bomb was manufactured in the South and was presumably for use by dissidents in the North, they should locate a car in Belfast for the job".

The beer keg contained all of the necessary components for a viable bomb, but had not been primed.

An examination indicated that it contained 66lb, or 30kg, of ammonium nitrate fertiliser and sugar. It was also fitted with a timer, but that was destroyed in a number of minor explosions carried out by an Army bomb disposal team.

Gardai evacuated 330 guests from the hotel shortly after 11pm as the Army began their operation on the bomb.

The group included a wedding party and all of them were moved temporarily to a nearby licensed premises.

The area was not declared safe until around 3.30am on Sunday.

Gardai said last night that the bomb could have flattened a building, and caused death and serious injury.

Officers received an anonymous call about a bomb being left in the car park and quickly located the black VW Passat in the grounds of Finnstown House.

Gardai called in the Army when they spotted the beer keg with wires protruding from a timing device.

Inquiries by the gardai and the PSNI suggested the possible link between the bomb and the former senior Provisional IRA activist, who had been a member of the organisation's ruling army council. The man is well known to police on both sides of the Border, and has served a jail sentence.

But officers said their investigation was still at an early stage.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny yesterday condemned the incident as "madness".

He told an audience at Letterkenny IT that those who left the bomb in the car park did not represent the new Ireland.

"While we have problems with the administration of justice, if we didn't have the intelligence of the gardai and the capacity to break that, just think of the consequences of what could have happened socially, economically and internationally when warped minds have their way," the Taoiseach added.

Meanwhile, as a result of follow-up inquiries, gardai detained a man in his 50s and he was taken to Lucan garda station for questioning.

Officers confirmed that the man was not suspected of being linked to the bomb. However, a number of items were taken from an apartment and these were being forensically examined.

The man is being questioned about suspected membership of an illegal organisation and is being held under section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act. He can be detained without charge for up to three days.

Irish Independent

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