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A bomb near a child's bike... how low can you sink?

WHAT SORT of a person places a bomb outside a family home, close to a children's bicycle?

How ruthless do you have to be to leave it where you know a child is likely to find it?

These are the questions being asked in the aftermath of the blast that seriously injured five-year-old PJ Duffy.

Picture it. A child full of the joys of taking his bicycle to school -- with his parents making sure he has his helmet on to protect him from a fall -- then emerging from his home to see a strange item in his front garden.

He picks it up to investigate, and it explodes, maiming him for life. Tragically, it was only a matter of time before an innocent like this young child was seriously injured in a pipe-bomb attack.

But for his helmet, the child may well have been killed outright. Over the past five years these devices have become the main weapon for gangs seeking to intimidate and maim their enemies.

What makes yesterday's attack all the more shocking is that the family in question are innocent and not suspected of any criminal involvement.


Is the adult who left the Wicklow bomb proud of his work today? What was the gain for the criminal that left the bomb?

In my career I saw many pipe bombs left indiscriminately under cars, in sheds and explosive devices put into the letter box.

For people in their right minds these acts are hard to comprehend, but there are many criminals out there who are constantly contriving to cause harm to others.

Of course someone knows who committed yesterday's cowardly act.

If they don't give them up, then they too are of a class as low as the bomber.

Last year the army and gardai dealt with 54 viable improvised devices, more than one a week. In total the authorities were called to 236 bomb alerts in 2011.

The number of callouts is likely to be the same this year.

Despite the outrage over the injuries caused to little PJ Duffy I cannot see a short-term let-up in pipe-bomb attacks.

As long as unscrupulous bomb makers continue to sell these devices to reckless gangs -- for a couple of hundred euro -- these attacks will continue.

And as they do so the question is -- how long before an innocent person is murdered?

PJ Browne is a former detective superintendent with over 35 years' experience policing serious crime