A man has been jailed after planting a bomb on a Dublin-bound bus the night before a visit from the Queen, and threatening to attack the monarch while she was at a state banquet.
Donal Billings, 66, planted the bomb inside a holdall in the luggage compartment of the bus which was heading for Dublin but was stopped west of the city at Maynooth in May 2011.
The device, made up of a firework timer switch, a copper pipe stuffed with gunpowder and a plastic bottle of petrol, was discovered the night before the Queen arrived in Dublin for her historic visit.
The visit was the Queen’s first to the Republic of Ireland, and the first by a British monarch in 100 years.
The bus, with 31 people on board, was stopped by Irish gardai at Maynooth after a bomb warning calling in by Billings.
Billings, from St Bridget’s Court, Drumlish, Co Longford, faced one explosive charge relating to the discover of the bomb and additional charges of making hoax threats.
The 66-year-old, a lone wolf with no known links to dissident groups, had claimed that two mortars had been placed at Dublin Castle – where the Queen was hosted at a state banquet – set to detonate at the time of the dinner.
Nothing untoward was found. Other hoax threat charges related to devices supposedly placed at a Sinn Fein office in Dublin, a bus station in Dublin and Cork airport.
Billings, who was caught after gardai traced phone records and SIM cards, was found guilty of all five charges in the non-jury Special Criminal Court in Dublin in October and has now been jailed for eight and a half years.
Detective Inspector Patrick Finlay welcomed the sentence, saying: “You had an individual who was capable and intent on causing disruption to a state visit.
“The investigation itself shows the An Garda Siochana is carrying out inquiries behind the scenes that the public are unaware of and this particular individual we monitored and obtained evidence so we could bring him before the courts and prosecute.”
(Top picture: Getty)