QUEEN Elizabeth II arrived in the Republic of Ireland today to start the first visit by a British monarch in a century.
The sovereign, accompanied by her husband Prince Philip, touched down at Casement Aerodrome, southwest of Dublin, at 11:55am (9.55pm AEST) to start the historic four-day visit, the first by the British monarch since since the Republic of Ireland gained independence.
The visit is taking place amid a huge security lockdown.
Earlier today a bomb was defused near Dublin and a controlled explosion was also carried out on a suspect package on Dublin’s light railway system today but it was found to be a false alarm, as was another suspect package found in the city on yesterday, officials said.
“A viable explosive device was found on a bus yesterday evening in Maynooth,” near Dublin, a spokesman said, adding that police had been tipped off by an anonymous call.
The device was defused by the Irish army, he said.
It was found late Monday night local time and was declared safe early Tuesday morning after a controlled explosion by bomb disposal experts.
An Irish defence forces spokesman confirmed that an army bomb disposal squad had made safe “a viable improvised device” early today at Maynooth in County Kildare.
“We can’t give any details about the device but it was viable. It was on a bus and by the time our team was called in the bus was evacuated and parked at a bus stop,” the spokesman said.
In the second incident, the army spokesman said a “limited controlled explosion” was carried out on a suspicious package found near a station on the LUAS light rail system in Inchicore, a west Dublin suburb, early today.
Police said the rail service was shut for about two hours and roads were sealed off while the package was investigated. It was found to be a hoax, a police spokeswoman said.
The army was also called out to a “suspect device” left on a footpath in central Dublin yesterday morning, the spokeswoman said.
The army “examined the device and declared it a hoax,” she said, adding that the object was passed to the police for investigation.
Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny said there was no chance the visit would be cancelled despite the discovery of the bomb, adding that police and the army had dealt with it in an “appropriate and efficient manner”.
“Obviously when this visit was first indicated to Buckingham Palace and they responded to the president’s invitation there would be no going back on that,” Mr Kenny told RTE state radio.
“This is an historic and symbolic visit and it is dealing with the conclusion of the past and a message for the future,” he added.
“These things happen when global personalities visit any countries. . . and whether it be Ireland or other countries, adequate security arrangements are put in place.”
Yesterday, Londoners were urged to be vigilant after a dissident Irish terror group issued a coded bomb warning on the eve of the Queen’s first visit to the Irish Republic.
The threat mentioned Central London but was “not specific in relation to location or time”. However, police across the English capital were on heightened alert and there were a number of road closures as officers dealt with suspicious situations.
The Mall was closed for several hours in the morning after officers noticed that a manhole cover had been lifted, and a controlled explosion was carried out on a suitcase found in Northumberland Avenue.