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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Queen in green: Defiant monarch shrugs off morning bomb alerts as she arrives in Ireland for the first Royal visit in 100 years

By Daily Mail Reporters

-Pipe bomb detonated after being found in luggage compartment of a coach
-Second hoax bomb found at a tram station in Inchicore near Dublin
-Foreign office says Royal visit will go ahead despite bomb discoveries
-Biggest-ever security operation in Republic of Ireland ahead of visit

The Queen shakes hands with Irish President Mary McAleese as she arrives in Ireland for the first visit by a British monarch since George V in 1911

The Queen arrived in Ireland today in emerald green for her historic first state visit just hours after a bomb was discovered on the outskirts of the Irish capital.

In a symbolic gesture, she was dressed in the country's national colour as she landed at an aerodrome for her four-day visit amid a massive security operation.

As if to underline the point, a 'viable improvised explosive device' was found in the luggage compartment of a bus just outside Dublin.

The Queen holds a posy of flowers given to her by eight-year-old Rachel Fox after she was greeted by Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore, left, while she meets Irish President Mary McAleese, right

It was blown up in a controlled blast in the early hours of this morning, an army spokesman said.

The sovereign - wearing a green hat and coat - and the Duke of Edinburgh were escorted down the red carpet at Baldonnel aerodrome to a motorcade, past an Irish Air Corps guard of honour to accept flowers from eight-year-old Rachel Fox, from Dun Laoghaire, south Dublin.

The royal couple were also greeted off the plane by British Ambassador Julian King, Ireland's Ambassador to the UK Bobby McDonagh and Ireland's deputy prime minister, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore.

The Royal couple were then driven to President Mary McAleese's residence in the Phoenix Park, Aras an Uachtarain, for a ceremonial welcome.

An unprecedented security operation, costing an estimated £26million, is in place to safeguard the Royal couple, which includes land, air and sea patrols and a ring of steel around the centre of the Irish capital.

Earlier as tensions ran high, a second suspect package was found at a tram station in Inchicore, Dublin, which later turned out to be a hoax.

Last night bomb disposal teams were drafted in as a bomb was found on a coach with around 30 passengers on board 40 miles outside Dublin.

The bus - operated by the state-owned Bus Eireann company - had been stopped outside a hotel, apparently after the tip-off.

Shortly before 2am it was made safe and the remains of the device were handed to the Irish police for investigation.

Before the Queen's plane touched down there were several security alerts in the city - including one in north Dublin just before she arrived.

There were also threats made forcing courthouses to be searched and cleared in Dundalk, Monaghan and Drogheda. No explosive devices were found.

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny insisted that there was no chance the Royal visit would be cancelled - and said the threat is minimal.

Royal arrival: The Queen and Prince Philip arrive at the Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel, for the historic four-day state visit

Historic: The Queen is greeted by Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore as she arrives in Ireland amid a huge security operation

He said: 'They've put in place a comprehensive security operation. You'll recall we've had American Presidents here before, a Pope.

'So obviously while there have been incidents, the Gardai (police) have been able to deal with those.'

Yesterday there was a coded bomb warning in London stoking fears that Irish dissidents are preparing to mark the Queen’s State visit to Ireland with an attack on the British mainland.

Security services in both countries were on high alert after Irish republican terrorists used a recognised code word in a warning message to Scotland Yard.

The ambiguous threat did not specify a location or time but sparked several operations during a tense day in central London. Officials said the message, made from a telephone in the Irish Republic on Sunday night, was the first coded warning in Britain for at least ten years.

Heavy security: Dressed in camouflage with sniper rifles, Irish Army Rangers were seen on duty at Casement Aerodrome, in Baldonnel, as the Monarch arrive

A swathe of the capital between Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square was shut down for almost eight hours as jittery police dealt with a series of suspicious incidents.

Former security minister Lord West said the latest bomb warning was ‘extremely worrying’ and warned that security officials were aware of ‘sleeper cells’ who want to mount fresh attacks.

He said: ‘We know very well that a tiny number of dissidents are absolutely obsessed with trying to revert to the bloodshed, mayhem and blood massacres of the past.

‘They are wrong. The bulk of Irish people do not want that.’

Security sources have repeatedly warned that dissidents ‘aspire’ to mounting a bloody attack and the threat level was raised to ‘substantial’ last year.

Motorcycle outriders prepare to welcome the Queen as she arrives at Baldonnel Airport amid a massive security operation

Irish Army Rangers at the Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel, on patrol before the Queen arrived

There are concerns a massive lockdown in Dublin ahead of the Queen’s arrival today could force extremists to seek ‘softer’ targets.

The city was at the centre of the biggest security operation in the Irish Republic’s history as the Queen’s four-day state visit gets under way.

More than 8,000 Irish police and 2,000 troops will be deployed in the high-profile security operation.

Some groups have been angered by the Queen’s itinerary which includes a wreath-laying ceremony today at Dublin’s Garden of Remembrance, which honours all those who fought for Irish freedom, and a visit to Croke Park, scene of a massacre in 1920.

The Queen arrives in an ordinary business plane as the biggest security operation in the Republic of Ireland's history is carried out

Precautions: Members of the public walk past phone boxes taped shut for security reasons by police ahead of the Queen's state visit to Ireland

The Queen will be protected by 120 armed British police officers as she becomes the first British monarch to visit southern Ireland since King George V in 1911.

Last night 500 troops created a secure ring around Baldonnel Fortress, the military aerodrome where the Queen arrived today.

And a Giraffe air defence system – used to detect low-altitude aircraft targets – is on standby to protect Farmleigh, the country estate where the Queen is staying.

Last month, the Real IRA said the Queen was ‘wanted for war crimes’ and called on ‘all self-respecting Irishmen and women’ to resist the ‘insult’ of her visit.

In London yesterday, police and the public were warned to be ‘extra vigilant’ as officers dealt with two security alerts.

Gardai seal off O'Connell street as the final preparations are made for the Queen's visit

Outside Buckingham Palace, the Mall and several other roads were closed for several hours as officers investigated fears a manhole cover had been tampered with.

Police investigating a suspected break-in in the early hours reported that the large padlocked grate near St James’s Palace may have been moved.

Dogs trained to detect explosives and officers trained in searching confined spaces were lowered into the Victorian sewer network.

A short distance away, bomb disposal officers were called to a West End hotel after baggage was abandoned on the pavement outside.

A remote-controlled robot was used to stage a controlled explosion and destroy an empty black suitcase on Northumberland Avenue.

Gardai seal off O'Connell street outside the General Post Office in Dublin before the Queen arrives

Final preparations are made at the General Post Office before Queen Elizabeth II arrives for her historic four-day visit

The Metropolitan Police said the threat level from Irish-related terrorism remained at ‘substantial’, meaning an attack is a strong possibility.

Security expert Crispin Black said the Queen's historic visit to Ireland has caused widespread anger among Republican extremist groups.

Mr Black, a Sandhurst-trained Falklands veteran, said that the alert could have been extremists showing that they 'are still there'.

He said dissident Republicans were 'extremely angry' about the Queen's visit and added: 'It is their way of showing that they are in a position to make these visits more difficult.

'From what I have seen going on in Dublin it is going to be quite difficult to do anything there - it has been locked down.

'Maybe they decided that Dublin was too difficult so they decided to do something in London just to show that they are still there.'

Mr Black was reluctant to speculate about which group may have been behind the call, but added: 'It has always been a test of the IRA's English department.

'If you can take the British at their own headquarters that can give a status boost and have a greater impact than on home turf. I gather there were great concerns that something would happen around the Royal Wedding.

'But now with the Queen arriving in Ireland it would be an appropriate time, if not to carry out an attack, then just to show people that they are still there.'



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