EIGHT pipe bombs discovered at a housing estate in Limerick were manufactured by a subversive group, say gardai.
Officers are investigating if the potential deadly devices were being stored for later use by a local criminal gang.
Army bomb experts were called to the housing estate at around 2pm yesterday.
The bombs were hidden in a shed, on waste ground at the rear of a row of houses in Granville Park, located in the south of the city.
A number of security sources said they believed the bombs were made by a subversive group for a gang operating in the Ballinacurra Weston area - the stronghold of the McCarthy Dundon criminal gang.
Gardai found the explosive devices after obtaining a search warrant at the District Court yesterday morning. Detectives were acting on intelligence received from a criminal source.
"Like guns and ammunition, all the top criminals want pipe bombs too. They are sometimes thrown in with drug consignments and other weaponry that they purchase," said a source.
The bombs can be sold for between around €200-€400 on the illegal firearms market depending on their quality.
"They are cheap enough. We believe the provos are making them and selling them to the gangs," the source said.
An Army Explosive Ordinance Detonation unit travelled to the scene from their base in Cork yesterday to inspect the eight bombs.
According to Superintendent Frank O'Brien, Henry Street Gardai Station, seven houses were evacuated.
Last Wednesday, a five-year- old boy had seven of his fingers blown off when he picked up a pipe bomb which had been left at the front door of his house in Newtownmountkennedy, Co Wicklow.
It emerged that the bombs found in Limerick yesterday were in a shed on an area that was previously designated for a children's playground.
The area is only accessed with keys that open a gate leading to a walkway through the estate. However, gardai said the area could also be reached by jumping over a high wall.
Residents in the usually quiet Limerick City suburb said they were shocked when news of the bombs discovery broke.
The bombs were to be taken from the scene last night and made safe by army personnel during a controlled explosion.