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Parcel bombing scheme was 'cack-handed, reckless and extremely dangerous'

There are similarities between this month’s devices and ones used by the Provisional IRA.

lim1 The package discovered yesterday. Source: An Garda Síochána

LONDON’S MET POLICE are now working with the gardaí here as investigations continue into yesterday’s discovery of a parcel bomb at an An Post centre in Limerick. 

The device, which did not go off, is believed to be the fifth of five parcel bombs sent to locations in London and Scotland and claimed by a group styling itself as the IRA. 

Gardaí confirmed yesterday that the parcel appeared identical to the ones sent to London and Glasgow at the start of the month, while photos released by the force yesterday afternoon showed that even the same type of stamp was used. 

Security analyst and former Defence Forces officer Tom Clonan said the devices found earlier this month were of a similar type to those used by the Provisional IRA at the height of the group’s operational capacity in the 1970s and 80s. 

“I spoke to a former colleague of mine who is a really experienced bomb disposal officer and he would have had a lot of experience dealing with IEDs, improvised explosive devices, and in this case an improvised incendiary device (IID) during the Troubles. 

“He said the type of device found in London matches that which was used by the IRA during the 7os and 80s. They would have had them in cigarette size packages and put them in shops and they would ignite and burn – they did millions of pounds worth of damage in Britain and in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.

Whoever did this is following the same kind of incendiary-making footprint or signature.

Clonan said whoever dreamt up the parcel bomb scheme had carried out a “cack-handed, reckless and extremely dangerous” operation.

The people who are doing this wouldn’t have the same operational capacity or experience or skill set that paramilitaries would have had in the past.

lim2 Source: An Garda Síochána

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 had been behind the four devices discovered in Britain, but that a total of five packages had been sent. 

The unit where the parcel was found yesterday processes all national and international undeliverable parcels that originated in Ireland.

‘Charing Cross’ was given as the address on the package, but it was marked ‘Return to Sender’. The location of a vague return address marked on the package does not appear to exist. 

The package, which the Defence Forces confirmed contained a viable improvised explosive device, would have had to travel to and from the UK either by air or sea. 

An Post says huge volumes of mail travel between Ireland and the UK each day via roads, ferries and air. More than two million items of mail go through its postal centres here each day. 

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“Safety is our number one priority. Since images of the packages in question have become available, our sorting staff have been briefed on what to look out for and to be extra vigilant,” an An Post spokesperson said earlier this month.  

The stamps used on the package found in Limerick and the others found in Britain come from the postal service’s Love & Wedding series and have been available across the country in booklets of ten since January of last year. 

Met Police says it is now working with gardaí as their joint probe with Police Scotland continues. 

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. 

Justice Minister Charlie 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.

About the author:

Daragh Brophy

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