09 February 2006

Gardai probe terror links with latest Dublin bomb

Irish Independent

North city explosion could have had a 'devastating' impact

Tom Brady and Kathy Donaghy
9 February 2006

GARDAI suspect dissident republicans manufactured a pipe bomb used in an attack on the home of a Dublin secondhand car dealer yesterday.

The motive for the attack at a house on the northside was being investigated by Gardai last night.

But the sinister device, which exploded after it fell from the boot of a car, was described as potentially lethal and the blast could have had devastating consequences.

Last night gardai were trying to establish if the improvised device was linked to a lunchbox bomb intercepted by detectives at the West Link toll bridge on the M50 in December and a pipe bomb found earlier in the year in Coolock.

Both of those devices were believed to have been made by renegade republicans but at least one of them had been sold on to Dublin criminals for use in a feud.

Yesterday's sophisticated device, which had been fitted inside a Thermos flask, was left on a car in the front garden of the home of dealer John Ward at Glin Road in Coolock.

The Toyota Corolla car was being moved out of the garden when the device fell off and the flask shattered when it hit the ground.

The device had been packed with nails and shotgun pellets as well as a small quantity of explosive.

Ticking noise

Locals ran from the garden after they heard a ticking noise and nobody was injured when the device exploded.

Part of the device became embedded in the radiator of a parked car and blew it apart.

But the nails and pellets had fallen onto the ground before the blast.

One garda source said last night: "Luckily, part of the device had fallen out before it blew up and local people had moved well away.

"Otherwise, there could well have been a fatality.

"If the nails and pellets had been projected at speed, the consequences could have been very serious," he added.

Mr Ward is a car dealer and the damaged vehicle, which had one of its windows blown out, was for sale.

Gardai said last night they did not believe Mr Ward, who is a settled Traveller and has been living there for more than 15 years, was the intended target for the attack.

But they admitted they did not know the reason why the house had been singled out and were examining a number of theories.

An Army bomb disposal unit was called out to deal with the device shortly after 4.30pm and the area was sealed off overnight by local gardai.

A team from the Garda technical bureau will carry out a detailed examination of the scene this morning.

A large number of local residents gathered in the open space across the road from the house to see what was going on.

In December Special Branch detectives seized a lunchbox-type device after stopping a car at the West Link toll bridge on the M50 toll bridge.

Gardai believe the bomb was to have been used as part of an extortion racket waged by the Continuity IRA.

Two weeks earlier the Garda's emergency response unit stopped a vehicle on the M1 near Cloghran and seized an under-car bomb which had been fitted with an anti handling device.

That bomb was thought to have been handed over by republican dissidents to Dublin criminals in Drogheda and to have been manufactured by a former Provisional IRA bombmaker based in Dundalk.

Michael Campbell, who lives on Ferrycarrig Drive adjacent to Glin Road, said he was inside having tea with his wife when he heard a loud bang.

The ex-Army officer said he knew it was an explosion of some description.

But when he came outside he couldn't see anything to indicate what had happened.

He said he could also feel the vibration from the sitting room.

"It's a very quiet area around here - we have no problems," he said.

His six year-old grandson Owen was playing outside at the time. He said he was nearly knocked off a wall with the fright of the blast.

Gardai are seriously concerned at the involvement of renegade republicans in selling off their "terrorist expertise" to criminals.

Associates of the dissidents have also been involved in campaigns against traffickers while extorting profits.

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