Bomb found in Dublin hours before Giro cycling stage: police

DUBLIN (AFP) - Irish police arrested a man after a huge car bomb was found in Dublin hours before the city welcomed a stage of the Giro d'Italia cycling race at the weekend, police said Monday.

The bomb, reportedly containing 22 kilos of explosives made from fertiliser, was found in a Northern Ireland-registered vehicle in a hotel car park on Saturday night, police said.

On Sunday, Germany's Marcel Kittel won his second successive Giro d'Italia stage win on the final day of the race in Ireland.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but suspicion fell on dissident republican groups opposed to the peace process in Northern Ireland.

"The viable device was located in a car in the car park of the hotel at approximately 9.00 pm (2000 GMT) on May 10," police said in a statement.

They said that the bomb was not primed.

Finnstown Country House, a luxury hotel in west Dublin that was hosting a wedding at the time, was evacuated while army bomb disposal units made the device safe.

Tens of thousands of people lined the route in Dublin Sunday to cheer on the cyclists with millions more watching around the world.

A 55-year-old man was arrested on Sunday, police said.

It is understood he has close links to the Real IRA, a breakaway faction of the Provisional IRA that remains active despite the Northern Ireland peace process.

The bomb scare comes amid heightened tensions over the arrest in Northern Ireland earlier this month of Gerry Adams, the leader of the Republican Sinn Fein party, over a notorious IRA murder.

Around 3,500 people died in three decades of violence between Protestants favouring continued union of Northern Ireland with Britain, and Catholics seeking a unified Ireland.