'Massive' bomb discovery linked to Prince Charles visit
IT's believed that the massive bomb found partially completed in a vacant house in Courtown was destined to be brought north of the border to attack a British Army base during the visit of Prince Charles and his wife Camilla which begins today, Tuesday.
Armed gardaí swooped in on the quiet Harbour Court estate, close to the heart of Courtown, shortly before lunchtime on Wednesday, and they burst open the door of an unoccupied holiday home.
Shortly afterwards, the order was given to evacuate the entire estate which is located across from the former Sands Hotel site, and more than 20 families were told to pack up and leave their homes.
'They moved us all out of here saying there was a very dangerous bomb in the house,' said one resident. 'We were told there was a 200lb bomb on the bed upstairs. It was two feet away from the headboards of the children next door.'
'They said if it had gone off, it would have taken out five houses, and all the houses across the road would have been damaged,' he added.
The shocked residents went to stay with family and friends, or waited in one of the local establishments for news on when they could return home.
The Army Bomb Disposal team arrived at 5.10 p.m. and made safe the component parts of the explosive device-making equipment found at the house without the need for a controlled explosion.
A cordon and road closures were put in place for public safety. According to the Army Press Office, items of an 'evidential nature' were handed over to the gardaí to assist them with their investigation. The scene was declared safe at 8.45 p.m.
'The gardaí then started moving stuff out of the house,' said the resident. 'We got back in before 10 p.m. The gardaí were there for two days.'
'It's terrifying to think of what could have happened,' he added. 'I can't bear to think of it.' He said that several members of the one family live in separate houses in the estate. Another family had recently suffered a bereavement while another family had recently welcomed home a new born baby.
Gardaí have not confirmed the size of the device found in Courtown, saying they can't go into specifics as the matter is under investigation.
The Garda Press Office said that the raid in Courtown was one of 20 such raids across the country on Wednesday. They came about as a result of an ongoing investigation by members of An Garda Síochána from the Special Detective Unit, Harcourt Square, and Crime and Security section at Garda Headquarters into dissident Republican activity.
The searches were carried out in counties Louth, Dublin and Wexford, and the operation was carried out with the assistance of the Garda Emergency Response Unit, Technical Bureau, Dog Unit and uniform and detective gardaí from the Louth and Wexford Divisions.
As part of the investigation four men were arrested - one in his sixties and the other three in their twenties. None of the arrests were in Courtown.
Three men appeared before the Special Criminal Court on Saturday. They were charged with membership of the IRA among other offences. They were arrested in Dublin and Leitrim last week. None of the charges specifically referred to the finds in Courtown.