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Just 23pc of bomb hoaxers captured

GARDAI made arrests in fewer than a quarter of hoax bomb alerts last year.

Army bomb experts have had to deal with a vastly increased number of hoax callouts in recent years -- but few of the culprits have been caught.

Despite "thorough investigations" by gardai, their success rate in finding those responsible for planting or calling in the hoaxes is just 23pc.

Some 96 bomb alerts during 2009 were identified as hoax incidents.

The Army special EOD team used considerable resources attending 88 of those scenes as a precaution.

However, gardai report that they have only made arrests in 22 of these cases.

Justice Minister Dermot Ahern said: "The use of pipe bombs and other IEDs and hoax incidents is a matter of concern to me, a concern that is shared by the Garda Commissioner."

In reply to a query from Labour's Brian O'Shea, he added: "Garda strategies are firmly focused on identifying the culprits in such incidents and, where sufficient evidence is adduced, proffering charges and bringing such persons before the courts."

Mr Ahern said the primary objective of gardai in dealing with improvised explosive devices is "to protect the life and safety of the public".

The Army bomb squad has attended a record number of crime scenes this year.

Emergency callouts were almost double the rate of 2007, with the Army being required nearly 200 times.





Gangland

The remains of the devices are always handed over to gardai for forensic examination and the investigation remains their responsibility.

The high demand for their services is being linked in part to a change in threatening tactics being used by gangland criminals, particularly in Dublin and Limerick.

A huge operation swings into action each time the army EOD team is called out, and Defence Minister Willie O'Dea has noted: "Requests for aid to the civil power are normally made by a member of An Garda Siochana not below the rank of inspector."

The EOD teams are on call 24 hours a day and seven days a week throughout the country to deal with any suspicious objects or devices that are identified.

hnews@herald.ie


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