UVF Sinn Fein massacre plot
Bomb would have killed republican leadership
THE UVF planned to "wipe out" the republican leadership in a Dublin bomb attack just weeks after the ending of the 1981 hunger strike.
That remarkable claim - 25 years after the event - comes in an exclusive interview with the Belfast Telegraph, in which the loyalist group said it had passed details on the planned bombing to the Irish government in recent days.
The UVF also warned it could not rule out that remnants of the bomb could still be in place in the Mansion House, one of Dublin's best-known buildings.
Gardai today evacuated the building - the Lord Mayor's residence - and began a search for a possible bomb after receiving information via loyalist contacts, the Belfast Telegraph learned.
According to the UVF's most senior leaders, a bomb was concealed close to the platform at the 1981 Sinn Fein Ard Fheis at the Mansion House, but the device "malfunctioned".
The party conference is remembered for Danny Morrison's Armalite and ballot box speech.
"The UVF saw the hunger strike at that time as an extension of the IRA's campaign - its war against the State," one of the loyalist leaders told this newspaper.
"The IRA probably thought it was going to be their finest hour . . . it was almost our finest hour," he claimed.
He said a UVF unit was "dispatched to wipe out the whole leadership" of the republican movement. "At the time, unfortunately, that device failed to go (explode). It was placed very near the platform party and timed to go off as keynote speeches were about to be delivered," he added.
In the interview in Belfast, the UVF claimed the bomb was in a fire extinguisher and was concealed in a ceiling above the Ard Fheis platform.
And it further claimed to have passed details on the planned attack to the Irish government "through the usual conduit" within the past week.
On what happened to the bomb, one of the UVF leaders present yesterday offered the following explanation.
"There are several theories on what may or may not have happened. First of all, it could have been discovered and not announced.
"Secondly, it could have been removed (but) not in the knowledge of what it was. And, thirdly, as pointed out, it could still be there."
The UVF leader continued: "There are people still within the realms of the UVF that know that that bomb was constructed and it was taken to Dublin and it was left there.
"I suppose if push came to shove it could certainly be almost proved that the event did take place."
That organisation and the closely linked Red Hand Commando will make a declaration on future intentions if a devolved government is achieved by the November 24 political deadline.
Following the UVF revelation the Mansion House was evacuated today because of a security alert. A Garda spokesman said the alert began at 8am but nothing had yet been found.