Local Garda Supt Aidan Glacken has condemned the planting of two pipe bombs in Athlone last Wednesday morning, saying the person who planted the bombs outside two head shops in Athlone did so in an indiscriminate and reckless manner.
The bomb scare shut down the centre of town for over two hours last Wednesday as businesses in the Irishtown area were evacutated.
At about 9.30am on Wednesday morning two suspect devices were found outside Eclipse and Myth and Magic, both located on Sean Costello Street in Irishtown. Gardai diverted traffic away from the area and evacuated businesses on Sean Costello Street, Mardyke Street and John Broderick Street. The Westmeath Independent understands the bombs were intended to go off - a very worrying development. After evacuating the area the gardai called in an Army Bomb Disposal Team, which was on the scene at about 10.20am. The bomb disposal unit made safe the two devices at the scene and then removed them to a safe location for further examination. An Army spokesman said they were "two improvised explosive devices".
An Army Bomb Disposal Officer deemed them viable and the remains of the devices have been handed over to the Gardai for their investigation.
Speaking about the incident this week Supt Glacken said: "The pipe bombs were left oustide both premises, they were viable, they were explosive devices.
"Obviously they posed a risk to everybody in the vincinity.
"They were left in an indiscriminate way, irregardless of the target, they were reckless as to what the intended target was."
He added that anybody passing by could have been injured by the bombs.
"If the buildings went on fire it would have had a catastrophic effect," he said. Asked if the bombs put lives at risk, Supt Glacken replied: "Absolutely."
He said the incident was a cause for concern for the gardai.
"It would cause us concern that somebody left these with the intention of causing damage," he said.
Gardai are appealing for anyone with any information to contact Athlone Garda Station on 090 6498551.
Supt Glacken said the gardai are particularly interested in the timeframe from 3am to 4am on Wednesday.
"If you were in the area between 3am and 4am and saw anything, not necessarily something suspicious, but if you saw any traffic or pedestrians in the area, we would ask that you contact the garda station," he said.
Supt Glacken added that gardai locally had been proactive on the issue of head shops and said if there were people in the community who had concerns about head shops there were forums to deal with these concerns.
"If people who have concerns about head shops, the people's concerns are our concerns.
"There are forums to deal with it and there should be a spirit of co-operation," he said.