Sunday 20 October 2019

Baking powder sent to Minister in hoax

Department of health evacuated on Monday as incident investigated

Members of Dublin Fire Brigade outside the Department of Health after it was evacuated on Monday
Members of Dublin Fire Brigade outside the Department of Health after it was evacuated on Monday
Minister Simon Harris

Mary Fogarty

A suspicious package sent to Simon Harris at the Department of Health on Monday turned out to contain harmless baking powder.

Minister Harris and his staff were present in the Baggot Street offices on Monday afternoon and were removed from the building in the evacuation after a member of staff opened the item.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has expressed concern for the department staff, pointing out that is they, rather than politicians themselves, who open mail.

There was no note in the envelope, which was addressed to Mr Harris. Baggot Street Lower was closed for the duration of the operation. Five units of Dublin Fire Brigade and gardaí as well as the army's bomb disposal unit were on site to assist the HazMat incident.

'I'm not sure what kind of oddballs send suspicious packages in the post but they should be well aware that it is not politicians opening the mail, it's people doing a normal job, a receptionist or a security guard or clerical officer or someone in the constituency team,' said Mr Varadkar. 'If you want to come after us, come after us, but don't come after our staff or our families.'

Minister Harris tweeted his thanks to the emergency services for their diligence in responding to the incident.

'They safety of staff must always be paramount.'

Defence Forces confirmed that an envelope containing a powder was inspected at the scene on Monday and deemed non-hazardous by technicians.

The item was handed over to gardaí for further examination. The scene was declared safe and the team departed at 2.30 p.m.

'Should members of the public encounter suspicious items, or potentially hazardous substances, they are advised to maintain a safe distance and inform gardaí,' said the defence forces in a statement.

Wicklow People