Grenade and bomb call-outs are rising
GARDAI and the army bomb squad are set to deal with more grenades, pipe-bombs and other devices this year than ever before.
There have been 516 incidents of explosives being discovered which could have killed or maimed innocent people but only 21 criminal cases have been brought.
The Explosive Ordnance Device (EOD) units have been called to 152 incidents up until the beginning of October this year where viable explosives were found.
Last year, the unit was forced to diffuse 196 explosives, a record number following 180 similar incidents in 2008.
Minister for Justice and Law Reform Dermot Ahern has confirmed that only one in 25 incidents involving explosives have made it before the courts.
"There have been 152 incidents involving suspected grenades, pipe-bombs or other improvised devices nationwide at which a Defence Forces Explosive Ordnance Device team has attended," he said.
"One-hundred-and-ninety-six such incidents recorded in 2009, 180 such incidents recorded in 2008 and 98 such incidents recorded in 2007.
"In respect of the incidents that occurred between 2008 and 2010 to date, a total of 21 cases are currently before the courts. A further 43 investigation files have been submitted to the DPP.
"The use of explosive devices and firearms by criminal gangs is a matter of ongoing concern both to me and to the Garda authorities.
"Garda strategies in counteracting these activities are very firmly focused on disrupting the criminal groups which are involved and, where sufficient evidence is available, proffering charges and bringing such persons before the courts.
"I have also put in place strong legislative measures to further strengthen the law dealing with those involved in criminal organisations."
Captain Pat O'Connor, spokesman for the Defence Forces, said that the bomb squad is kept anonymous due to the risks involved and treat every call-out with the utmost professionalism.
"We have teams that are constantly on call, we're very conscious in terms of our methodology and the identities of bomb disposal officers are kept secret," he told the Herald.
"We've never had a call-out that we couldn't get a team to attend and we approach hoax call-outs in the very same manner as we do genuine bomb threats.
"We would certainly advise members of the public that if they come across a device that they don't move them, touch them, just leave them and contact the gardai.
"For us, public safety is paramount."
Labour Justice spokesperson Pat Rabbitte described the figures as a "worry" and a direct result of increased gangland activity.
"These figures are obviously an aspect of gangland feuding," he said.
"The figures are also down to a crossover of ex-republican paramilitaries that are colluding with gangs."