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The BBC's Denis Murray
"The RUC says the device appears to have partially exploded"
 real 28k

BBC Northern Ireland's Mervyn Jess reports
The device was not inside Hillsborough Castle's inner high security cordon
 real 28k

BBC NI's Mervyn Jess reports
Hillsborough Castle played host to Prince Charles just a week ago
 real 28k

Tuesday, 20 June, 2000, 11:31 GMT 12:31 UK
Mandelson feels 'safe' despite device
Hillsborough Castle
Mandelson was not at castle when device was found
Northern Ireland Secretary of State Peter Mandelson has said he feels "very safe and secure" despite the discovery of an explosive device at his official residence.

Army technical experts made safe a partially exploded device which was found inside the perimeter of Hillsborough, County Down on Monday night.

Early reports indicate the device may have been left some time ago by republican dissidents.

Speaking in Cork in the Republic of Ireland, Mr Mandelson said he knew "very little" about the incident.

Peter Mandelson: Matter will be investigated by police
"All I know is that I feel very safe and very secure.

"Whatever needs to be investigated will be investigated by the police who, as ever, will do a very good job."

Security sources have said the device was in a holdall bag and was discovered at least 800 yards from the castle building. It contained a detonator and a quantity of home-made explosives.

A Downing Street spokesman played down the significance of the device which he said was "small" and was found well away from the main castle building.

The spokesman said it was a "comparatively minor incident", but was being investigated by the RUC.

Officials have said security was important, and any lessons that needed to be learned from the incident would be taken on board.

A Northern Ireland Office spokesman said Mr Mandelson was not in the building at the time of the discovery of the device by a farmer cutting hay.

However, if the device had lain undiscovered for some time it could have been in the grounds when the Prince of Wales was meeting victims of the Troubles at a garden party last week.

The castle has been the focus of a security operation since the device was found shortly after 2100 BST on Monday, just inside the boundary wall of a field on the Moira Road.

A follow-up search of the area around the site is being carried out.

Lagan Valley MP, Jeffrey Donaldson
Jeffrey Donaldson: Ongoing terrorist threat
Local Ulster Unionist MP Jeffrey Donaldson said the incident illustrated the ongoing level of terrorist activity in Northern Ireland.

"Clearly this indicates there is ongoing terrorist activity in Northern Ireland.

"I think it's wrong the security should be stepped down until that level of terrorist threat is dealt with," said the Lagan Valley MP."

The house and grounds of Hillsborough Castle play host to many of Northern Ireland's official occasions.

Prince Charles' visit followed a ceremony earlier this year when the Queen presented the Royal Ulster Constabulary with the George Cross at a special event in the castle grounds.

Republican dissident groups opposed to the peace process, which include the Real IRA and Continuity IRA have carried out a number of recent attacks on army installations throughout Northern Ireland.

No-one has been injured in the attacks.

The Continuity IRA said it carried out an attack on a hotel in Irvinetown, County Fermanagh in February. No-one was hurt after the hotel was evacuated following a telephone warning before the device exploded in the carpark.

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See also:

13 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
Prince meets Troubles victims
06 Apr 00 | Northern Ireland
Bombing blamed on dissidents
16 Mar 00 | Northern Ireland
Explosives find linked to Real IRA
07 Feb 00 | Northern Ireland
Bombing follows dissident pattern
21 Oct 99 | Northern Ireland
The dissidents who threaten peace
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