Call claiming explosives planted outside Minister’s home treated as threat to ‘security of the State’

Michael Murray (52) has pleaded not guilty to making a false report from phone in Midlands Prison

A senior garda has told a trial that a call claiming explosives had been planted at the house of the Minister for Justice was considered a criminal offence at a serious level “that might threaten the security of the State”.

Michael Murray (52), formerly of Seafield Road, Killiney, Dublin, has pleaded not guilty to one count of knowingly making a false report giving rise to an apprehension for the safety of someone else while he was imprisoned in the Midlands Prison, Portlaoise on March 7th, 2021.

On Wednesday, the second day of the trial, Supt Dermot Dray said his objective was to try to establish the phone number and identity of the person who had contacted the Samaritans hotline and made a bomb threat to the home of the Minister.

He told Sean Gillane SC, prosecuting, he was informed of the bomb threat on March 7th, 2021 and made an application to his superior officer the following day to find out the caller’s number and where they had called from.


Supt Dray said he received the phone number two days later and information that the call came from the Midlands Prison.

In cross examination, Supt Dray told Garrett Baker SC, defending, that his application was to trace the calls made to this particular Samaritans office within a certain time period. A Samaritans volunteer on Tuesday told the jury about receiving the call.

Supt Dray told Mr Baker that, as far as he was aware, gardaí did not visit the Samaritans branch that had received the call. Mr Baker put to him that “everyone knew it was a hoax phone call” at the point the application was made to trace the phone number.

However, Supt Dray disagreed and said it was his view that the matter “would have to be thoroughly investigated” and that there “were extremely sinister elements to this at the very least”. He said the call was a criminal offence at a serious level “that might threaten the security of the State”.

The court also heard evidence from Sgt Paul McGarry, who was a supervisor at the Eastern Regional Communications unit when the call was made.

He told the court that when he received the details of the bomb threat, he contacted gardaí in Navan so they could respond. Minister for Justice Helen McEntee lived in the area at the time. He said he was “acutely aware” that Ms McEntee was pregnant at the time and did not want to cause her undue stress.

Gardaí from Navan were sent to the Minister’s house to look for suspicious devices or anything that stood out. Sgt McGarry said he received a phone call from these gardaí at 10pm saying everything appeared to be in order and that no suspect devices had been found. Gardaí were also contacted in Dublin to examine the Department of Justice “for any suspect devices in the vicinity”.

Sgt McGarry said he also received a message from the Garda Special Detective Unit that evening to say that the code word ‘Red October’ used by the caller to the Samaritans was not recognised by them.

The trial previously heard that the caller to the Samaritans said: “This is the Irish National Liberation Organisation. Explosives have been planted at the home of the Minister of Justice and her family. The password is Red October. This is to do with a court case happening in Dublin tomorrow.”

Sgt McGarry told Mr Baker that the investigation was “closed off” on his end once the bomb threat was discovered to be false.

The trial continues before Judge Patricia Ryan and the jury.

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