Archive for the ‘Ireland’ Category

Coals to Newcastle, Explosives to Dublin . . . ?

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

What’s heading the list of most-read articles in the mainstream Slovak newspaper Sme would not normally merit the notice of the rest of the world. Today, though, it points to a most-amusing story: Airport police hid explosives in baggage. One [set of explosives] flew off to Dublin.

So, the Slovak and the Irish Republics: not two countries one would normally associate with one another. Now the latter is rather cross at the former, and since one side to the dispute does use English as an official language, you can read about all the details in the Irish Independent, among other places.

Executive Summary: Slovak police decided they needed to conduct an exercise to test airport screening personnel, so they inserted actual explosives into the luggage of eight unwitting passengers. Unfortunately, one of them managed to make it through security without being detected, and so actually flew to Dublin while carrying one-tenth of a kilogram of explosives in his suitcase. The hapless explosives-mule, 49-year-old electrician Stefan Gonda, according to the Independent article actually lives smack-dab in central Dublin – which was where a multi-block area was sealed off earlier today and five buildings evacuated, as an explosives team from the Irish Army arrived to greet Mr. Gonda and secure the stash.

Apologies are now flowing profusely to the Irish from Slovak government officials. Following on the heels of the “underwear bomber” above Detroit on Christmas Day, this is really rather abysmal timing for such a similar incident. Too few people in the world – excluding also certain US Senators, as in one “McCain, John” – are even aware of Slovakia’s existence, preferring to utter “Czechoslovakia,” but this is not really the ideal way for that country to make itself better known. And in keeping with that general obscurity, this further article from Sme (“Police: We informed the Irish today”) makes it clear that the incident happened at the “international airport” in Poprad*, and not at the Bratislava airport as the Independent article would have it. On that same page you can relish no fewer than two videos featuring embarrassed Slovak officials mouthing their excuses to the press – respectively the Poprad police chief and the spokeswoman for Poprad-Tatry Airport – but of course those excuses are mouthed in Slovak.

* OK, maybe you don’t know that Poprad is over in the eastern part of the country, while Bratislava is way over in the western part, but you surely heard of the city before, back when it was a candidate to host the 2006 Winter Olympics! Seriously, though, those looking for a cheap-but-good skiing vacation – particularly European residents – should check the place out.

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