Byline: Chris Greenwood Crime Reporter
A CODED bomb threat stoked fears last night that Irish dissidents are preparing to mark the Queen's State visit to Ireland with an attack on the British mainland.
Security services in both countries were on high alert after Irish republican terrorists used a recognised code word in a warning message to Scotland Yard.
The ambiguous threat did not specify a location or time but sparked several operations during a tense day in central London. Officials said the message, made from a telephone in the Irish Republic on Sunday night, was the first coded warning in Britain for at least ten years.
A swathe of the capital between Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square was shut down for almost eight hours as 'Obsessed with bloodshed' jittery police dealt with a series of suspicious incidents. Former security minister Lord West said the latest bomb warning was 'extremely worrying' and warned that security officials were aware of 'sleeper cells' who want to mount fresh attacks.
He said: 'We know very well that a tiny number of dissidents are absolutely obsessed with trying to revert to the bloodshed, mayhem and blood massacres of the past.
'They are wrong. The bulk of Irish people do not want that.' Security sources have repeatedly warned that dissidents 'aspire' to mounting a bloody attack and the threat level was raised to 'substantial' last year. There are concerns a massive lockdown in Dublin ahead of the Queen's arrival today could force extremists to seek 'softer' targets.
The city was at the centre of the biggest security operation in the Irish Republic's history as the Queen's four-day state visit gets under way.
More than 8,000 Irish police and 2,000 troops will be deployed in a [pounds sterling]26million operation amid fears republican groups will try to make political capital from the trip.
Some groups have been angered by the Queen's itinerary which includes a wreath-laying ceremony today at Dublin's Garden of Remembrance, which honours all those who fought for Irish freedom, and a visit to Croke Park, scene of a massacre in 1920. …