Limerick suspicious package ‘identical’ to UK letter bombs

Gardaí liaising with UK police after An Post sorting office evacuated on Friday morning

 

A suspicious package that caused the evacuation of a Limerick postal sorting office on Friday morning may be linked to recent letter bomb incidents in the UK, Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has said.

A group calling itself “the IRA” last week claimed responsibility for the four devices that were sent to the UK two weeks ago; three to London transport hubs and one to a Scottish university.

In that claim of responsibility, during which a recognised New IRA code word was used, the caller said while only four parcels had been found, five had been sent.

The paramilitary group was behind a recent car bombing in Derry city and it has killed prison officers in Northern Ireland in the recent years.

Mr Flanagan has suggested the device found in Limerick on Friday morning could be the last of the five parcels the New IRA claimed responsibility for.

The Garda has said the parcel found in Limerick appears to be “identical” to those found in the UK.

“An Garda Síochána are currently investigating a parcel of interest identified at the Limerick An Post sorting office shortly after 6am this morning,” Garda Headquarters said in a statement.

“This parcel appears to be identical to parcels - pending closer forensic and ballistic examination - discovered earlier this month in London and Glasgow. “An Garda Síochána continue to liaise with the UK Authorities in relation to these investigations.”

The alarm was raised at the An Post sorting office off the Dock Road in Limerick shortly after 6am on Friday when gardaí received a report of a suspect package at the depot.

The building was evacuated and the Explosives Ordnance Disposal team attended the scene.

Mr Flanagan said there seemed to be a connection with the four letter bombs recently discovered in London and Glasgow and the device found Limerick.

“This is a despicable act. The sending of incendiary devices like this is totally unacceptable. I hope the people responsible are brought to justice,” the Minister told RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke programme.

Mr Flanagan said his assumption is based on the stamp which is the same as on the letters in the UK. He said that at the time, police in the UK said there was a fifth item and this could be the fifth. “We have reason to believe this could be the case,” he said.

Speaking in Brussels, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar condemned those responsible.

“No matter what is happening in politics at the moment, it’s no justification for violence and certainly no justification for potentially exposing civilians to injury or potentially death,” he said. “The Minister for Justice was in touch with me this morning to inform me of what they know so far, and they did know there were five letter bombs sent a few weeks ago and the fifth one has turned up at a postal centre in Limerick so we believe its one of the same batch and this is the fifth one now.”

Three devices

On March 5th, the London Metropolitan Police last Tuesday, confirmed a call had been made to the Irish News in Belfast claiming responsibility for the three devices on behalf of the IRA.

Following that call, the Met also said the devices were similar to others used by dissidents in the past.

The three small devices found in London on March 5th appeared designed to catch fire rather than explode. They were sent to Waterloo rail station and buildings on the Heathrow and London City airport campuses.

The package sent to the Compass Centre offices at Heathrow was opened, causing the A4 envelope the device was in to catch fire. However, the other two London packages were not opened.

The following day at Glasgow University in Scotland buildings were evacuated after a device was discovered in the college’s mail room. It was not opened and there were no injuries.