postal depot

Limerick device 'appears identical' to London and Glasgow parcel bombs claimed by 'IRA'

Around 175 staff have been evacuated and postal services in Limerick are off today.

LAST UPDATE | Mar 22nd 2019, 2:00 PM

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GARDAÍ ARE EXAMINING a potential link between a security alert at a postal depot in Limerick this morning and the letter bombs detected in London and Glasgow earlier this month. 

Around 175 An Post staff have been evacuated from two postal buildings on the Dock Road following the discovery of a suspicious package at a centre that handles undeliverable parcels. 

The unit at the centre of the alert processes all national and international undeliverable parcels that originated in Ireland – meaning it’s possible the parcel that sparked today’s alert could have been sent to the UK and then back to the Limerick centre in recent weeks. 

In a statement gardaí confirmed that they had been deployed to the scene after the alarm was raised shortly after 6am and that, “this parcel appears to be identical to parcels (pending closer forensic and ballistic examination) discovered earlier this month in London and Glasgow”.

An Army bomb squad arrived at the scene shortly before 10am and the device has since been made safe. The device has been handed over to gardaí for further investigation, the Defence Forces said in a statement. 

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The Defence Forces said its team had found “a viable improvised explosive device contained in a plastic envelope”. Investigating gardaí are now liaising with authorities in the UK. 

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said earlier that intelligence in Britain had noted that there could be five such letter bombs and that “this could well be the fifth”. 

Asked whether there were similarities between the parcels delivered in the UK and the one found this morning, he said there were. 

Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke Flanagan said: “I understand that to be the case with particular reference to the postage stamp that was used.” 

An Post has confirmed that there will be no postal services in Limerick today and that any backlog in the area would be made up tomorrow. 

Flanagan said it was “a dreadful consequence of the uncertainties around Brexit where in the context of the heightened tensions in Northern Ireland, in the island of Ireland that people have taken it on themselves to send letter bombs”.

He called it an “absolutely despicable act” and “totally unacceptable” and added that he hoped those responsible could be brought to justice.

UK bombs

Police in the UK confirmed earlier this month that they were investigating a claim made by a group styling itself as the IRA that it was behind the delivery of the parcel bombs to the locations in Britain. 

The group said that five devices had been sent, but at the time only four had been detected, officers said. 

The claim was received by a media outlet in the North using a recognised code word, according to a joint statement issued by Police Scotland and London’s Met Police. 

On Tuesday 5 March Met Police launched a terrorism investigation after three small explosive devices were reported at a building near Heathrow Airport, London City Aviation House and the mail room of Waterloo station in London city centre. 

The packages – all A4-sized white postal bags containing yellow Jiffy bags – were assessed by specialist officers and found to be small improvised explosive devices.

One was opened by staff, causing a small fire, but no-one was injured. 

The following day several buildings at the University of Glasgow were evacuated. Bomb disposal experts were called, but the device found there did not go off and no-one was harmed.

Met Police said in a statement today that they were in contact with gardaí over the Limerick device: 

Our investigation into the three devices found in London continues alongside the Police Scotland investigation into the device found in Glasgow. No arrests have been made at this stage and enquiries continue.
Following the discovery of the devices on 5 March in London, extensive advice was issued to relevant businesses and sectors across the UK to be vigilant for and report suspicious packages to police.
This advice remains and we continue to urge the public to be vigilant and report anything suspicious to police. 

The unit at the centre of today’s alert processes returned parcels originally posted from Ireland with incorrect or out of date addresses in addition to items returned from depots (for example, in cases where the addressee doesn’t pick the item up from their local depot after receiving a docket through their letterbox). 

The mail delivery unit handling all deliveries for Limerick and the surrounding area was also evacuated. 

- With reporting by Cónal Thomas and Sean Murray 

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