THE brave five-year-old boy maimed in a pipe bomb attack yesterday dreams of being a garda when he grows up. Little PJ Duffy remains in Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Crumlin where he required emergency surgery after losing at least two fingers and suffering horrific injuries to his face and legs after picking up the explosive device he found on his doorstep.
It is believed the youngster was saved because he was wearing a bicycle helmet.
Neighbours said they heard a loud "thud" and ran to the boy's aid.
"He was just hysterical," said a neighbour, who was one of the first on the scene. "He had his school uniform, his bike helmet, and his high-visibility jacket on because of the trip they were going on.
"You could tell even then that he'd lost fingers on both hands. He had blood on his arm and his face but I couldn't really see if his face was injured because I couldn't see where the blood had come from."
She wrapped a towel around PJ's arm and kept it elevated to try and prevent the blood flow. "We rang an ambulance but his grandfather put him into the car and brought him to the local GP," she said.
He was then transferred to hospital for the emergency operation.
PJ's mother Kelly Anne (30) and her three children had been living in the estate for about a year. She lives there with her teenage daughter Casey, PJ, and a younger son, Oisin.
Patrick O'Brien, from nearby Kilcoole, Co Wicklow, who is father to PJ and Oisin, rushed to his son's bedside as soon as he heard what had happened, according to local sources.
Sources say that little PJ is expected to remain in hospital for a number of days for treatment to his horrific injuries.
The device was left on the doorstep of the house some time between 9pm on Tuesday and 8am yesterday.
A massive garda investigation is ongoing with detectives examining a number of lines of enquiry as no firm motive has yet to be established. However, sources believe that the incident is a localised matter connected to the Sycamore Drive estate in Newtownmountkennedy, Co Wicklow, where the blast happened.
A source explained: "This was a very sophisticated device and not some crudely made pipe bomb.
"With that in mind, the Special Detective Unit are involved in this investigation because of their expertise and experience in dealing with dissident Republicans who have been manufacturing the more sophisticated pipe bombs in circulation," said a source.
PJ's family declined to comment on the case today