Massive security operation ahead of visit by Charles
Gardai are conducting a massive surveillance operation against dissident Republicans ahead of the visit of Prince Charles to Ireland later this month.
The Special Detective Unit (SDU) has stepped up investigations ahead of the royal visit, with sources saying that an increase in activity by the IRA in the North “is of particular concern”.
Charles and his wife Camilla Parker Bowles’s four-day trip will reportedly take them to Mullaghmore, Co Sligo, where the prince’s great-uncle, Lord Mountbatten, was killed in an IRA bombing in August 1979.
The four-day visit by the royal couple to Ireland and Northern Ireland will take place from May 19 to 22.
Sources say that senior gardai and the PSNI have had a number of discussions in recent weeks about the visit and a massive security operation, which will cost well over €1m, will be in place for the trip.
“Gardai are well on top of everything and things are not as tense as they were ahead of the visit of Queen Elizabeth in 2011,” a source explained.
“However there can be no room for complacency and detailed policing plans are being drawn up.
“And of course the nightmare scenario of Islamic State attempting to take advantage of the situation cannot and will not be ruled out either,” the source added.
In the meantime, specialist units within the SDU such as the secretive National Surveillance Unit have been busy monitoring the activities of dangerous IRA figures who may want to disrupt or carry out a terror attack during the visit.
As with the visit of his mother three years ago, gardai will be posted along routes where a risk could be posed to Prince Charles, such as from vacant buildings and road junctions.
Manhole covers will be sealed and specialist garda marksmen will be in place.
Charles and Camilla are expected to visit Mullaghmore, Lissadell House and Drumcliffe Church in Co Sligo.
They are also likely to visit Galway and Dublin and attend formal events with President Michael D Higgins.
Prince Charles undertook the first official visit to the State by a member of the British royal family since independence when he travelled to Dublin on May 31, 1995.
He made a second official visit here in 2002 with both events passing off without major incidents.
Dissident republicans have stepped up their campaign in the North in recent days with two partially-exploded bombs being found close to an army base in Derry on Saturday.
The home of Northern Ireland Deputy Prime Minister, Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuiness, was targeted by paint bombs on Sunday night.
The IRA are also being blamed for a massive bomb which was discovered near a church in north Belfast on Friday.
Sources say that the Continuity IRA are attempting to “take credit” for the upsurge in activities among dissident republicans.