Bomb found near Dublin ahead of UK Queen's visit

Security tight after bomb discovered and destroyed; event marks first time a British monarch has visited Ireland since 1911.

May 17, 2011 13:17
2 minute read.
Irish police conducting stop and searches

Irish police_311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

DUBLIN - The Irish army destroyed a makeshift bomb discovered on a bus near Dublin on Tuesday ahead of a historic visit by Britain's Queen Elizabeth, amid the biggest security operation ever mounted by the state.

The visit, the first by a British monarch since Ireland won independence from London in 1921, is designed to show how warm neighborly relations have replaced centuries of animosity.

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But the discovery of the bomb on a bus headed for Dublin, and a coded warning on Monday about a possible bomb in London, were stark reminders that a small minority remain violently opposed to continued British rule in Northern Ireland.

"These things happen when global personalities visit anywhere in the world," Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny said.

The bomb was found in the town of Maynooth, 25 km (15 miles) from Dublin and blown up by an army bomb disposal unit in a controlled explosion, the military said. Britain's Foreign Office said the queen's visit would still go ahead.

Streets across the capital were sealed off, with police on almost every corner and helicopters whirring overhead.

One of the city's main tram lines was closed after a second suspicious device was found at one of the stops. The army later said it was a hoax.

"They are dragging us into the dark ages," said Tom O'Neill, a 34-year-old salesman on his way to work in Dublin, describing those who planted the bomb as a tiny minority of "oddballs".

"There are some people in Ireland that have to get over the whole English thing," he said.

Peace in Northern Ireland after decades of conflict has paved the way for the queen's four-day stay, but there will be constant reminders of a violent past during her visit.

Her arrival coincides with the 37th anniversary of bombings in Dublin and Monaghan, the single bloodiest day in a three-decade sectarian battle over Northern Ireland.

Relatives will lay a wreath at the site of one of the bombings in Dublin shortly before Queen Elizabeth and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, land at around 11:00 a.m. GMT.

The monarch's visit is about reconciliation and emphasizing the strong bond, built on generations of Irish emigration, that existed between the two countries even before a 1998 deal brought peace to Northern Ireland.

It is estimated that nearly 1 in 10 British people have an Irish grandparent, entitling them to citizenship. Irish people are avid followers of British soccer clubs and soap operas. The nation of around 4.5 million people is the biggest overseas market for British clothing, food and drink.

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