Gardai fears of dissident attack plan as Prince Charles and wife Camilla visit
Gardai fear that the Real IRA was planning an attack to coincide with the visit of Prince Charles and his wife Camilla after seizing bombs in the Republic.
Anti-terrorist detectives arrested four men and seized a sizeable quantity of homemade explosive, including fertiliser and sugar, as well as bomb parts during raids in Louth, Kildare, Dublin and Wexford on Tuesday night.
One of those arrested is believed to be a former key associate of Michael McKevitt, one of those held liable for the Omagh bomb and currently serving 20 years in the Republic for terror offences.
Security sources said that the dissidents hoped to plant a large bomb near an Army base in Northern Ireland to mar the visit of Prince Charles and his wife Camilla to generate maximum publicity.
It is understood that the bomb-making operation had been under secret surveillance by gardai for weeks but a decision was made to move in on Tuesday.
Officers swooped on a house and land at Dromiskin, Co Louth, owned by a veteran republican who was arrested with a second man. Raw materials for explosives were found with bomb components in eight barrels buried on the land. "At a second location in Co Wexford a massive bomb was being built which intelligence suggests was to be used in the North in the coming week," a source said.
Gardai found components of the bomb at a house in Courtown, which included 200lbs of homemade explosive and a timer power unit to detonate the device.
"The component parts were made safe at the scene and the explosive material was destroyed by controlled explosion," a Defence Forces spokesperson said.
Irish Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said "threats to the security of the State are an ongoing issue". She said it was "the reality" that there were people who meant to do harm to the royal family.
"In relation to Prince Charles clearly we have had a very successful royal visit not so long ago, where the gardai did an excellent job, and basically we want to ensure that Prince Charles has an excellent visit here."