Authorities in Dublin discovered a massive, 50-pound car bomb in the Irish capital hours before the Giro d’Italia finished its third stage there on Sunday.
According to the Irish Independent, the car was parked at the Finnstown Country House hotel in the city. The report says the fertilizer bomb was armed and had a timer attached. An Army bomb squad rendered it safe.
“This was a deadly, full-size bomb which had been wired up and ready for imminent use. If it had gone off it would have caused total devastation,” a source told the Independent.
The Gardai, Ireland’s national police force, apparently was tipped off about the bomb Saturday night in a phone call at 8:40 p.m., according to the Independent. A massive operation was then launched to locate it. The Gardai and an explosives unit from the army arrived on the scene, located about 16 kilometers from the stage 3 finish, and were able to defuse the device.
Security sources told the Independent the bomb was made with a Timer Power Unit, which was used in IRA bombs. A man was arrested and reportedly has ties to the Real IRA (RIRA). The report claims the man was an associate of Alan Ryan, the Dublin leader of the RIRA who was killed in 2012.
Giro race director Mauro Vegni told VeloNews the bomb was not connected to the race.
“I don’t see the connection,” Vegni said. “I’m upset that this news could ruin the image of the beautiful days we had on the island, from Belfast to Dublin. We heard nothing of the scare. I heard it from you journalists this morning.”
Vegni said that Giro organizer RCS Sport has worked closely with law enforcement leading up to and during the Giro. There were no threats or other signs of trouble prior to the bomb’s discovery Saturday night.
“We had no bits of information relating to anything disturbing in the last week. In both Belfast and Dublin, we had open communication with the police to control any situation,” Vegni said. “We heard nothing from either side, in Northern Ireland or in the Republic.
“We always had the situation under control when we were there, but already six months out. We were watching every bit of news — unionist or republican flags, etc. — we controlled it, monitored it. Even they said that it’s like that at times, but there is nothing serious to worry about.”
The race returned to Bari, Italy on Monday and continues Tuesday with stage 4, a 121km route. In Italy, a similar command center setup by the Ministry of Interior monitors the three-week race.
“Starting two years ago, we have a group that monitors the Giro 24 hours a day that’s part of Italy’s Ministry of Interior,” Vegni said. “We work with specialized police in every province, the DIGOS (General Investigations and Special Operations Division), the Carabinieri … those who can control any possible situation.”
Orica-GreenEdge sport director Matt White said it would be “very sad news” if the bomb was, in fact, meant to disrupt the race.
“If it was intended for the Giro, it’s a very sad when any group uses sport to make their political message — or whatever their message is – across,” Orica-GreenEdge sport director Matt White told the Sydney Morning Herald. “Sport does unite a lot of people. We are not here on any religious cause, or we are not here … it’s a very, very sad day if that was the intended use for the bomb.
“It’s disturbing, but we didn’t found out about it until we left this Ireland morning [on Monday]. We won’t dwell on the fact, that’s for sure.”
White said that securing every kilometer of a bike race — especially one as long as a grand tour — is an impossible task.
“It’s an easy event to stop because people use the roads,” White said. “It’s an easy event to cause a disturbance and get some media attention, but this is going to another level altogether if that was the intended use of the bomb.”
Gregor Brown contributed to this report.