Forkhill bomb expert is honoured

Congrats Sir!

An Army bomb disposal expert who helped defuse a device found near the border this week has been honoured by the Queen for his bravery.

Sergeant Major Colin Grant has been awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal for saving "countless" lives through his work in Afghanistan.

Earlier this week, he was involved in defusing a 600lb bomb found at Forkhill in South Armagh.

He said he was "thrilled" to have his work recognised.

Normally based at Shorncliffe in Kent, the 38-year-old was in Northern Ireland this week.

He and his colleagues spent seven days defusing the bomb, which was packed into a chemical drum.

The PSNI said they believed it was designed to kill police officers patrolling the area.

Sergeant Major Grant served in Helmand province from October last year until April.

During that time he helped destroy up to 60 improvised explosive devices.

He said it would take some time for news of the award to sink in.

"It's hard to describe the feeling. You never expect to be recognised in this way, but it is very rewarding and I'm thrilled," he said.


"It's really recognition of the work of all the other operators as well. They are doing a wonderful job, taking unreal personal risks to ensure the safety of their colleagues and civilians."

The citation on the award reads:

"Throughout Operation Herrick, Sergeant Major Grant regularly operated under the most intense pressure, his selfless actions saved numerous lives. He took pride in reducing the IED threat posed and readily placed himself in harm's way to do so."

Sergeant Major Grant said he was particularly pleased to tell his father of his award.

"My dad was in the Royal Engineers for 22 years, and understands fully the honour and pride I feel," he added.

"It was an emotional phone call. Mum and dad are both very proud of the work I do and now the recognition of that work."

The Queen's Gallantry Medal ranks below the George Cross and George Medal for acts of exemplary bravery by the civilian population.

It is also occasionally awarded to military personnel for acts for which military honours would not normally be appropriate, such as acts of bravery not in the presence of the enemy.

Original item:

Police have said a large bomb left close to the Irish border in south Armagh was intended to kill officers.

The 600lb bomb was made safe by an Army bomb disposal team near Forkhill.

The device had a command wire running from where it was planted in Northern Ireland to a firing point across the border in the Republic.

It is suspected that dissident republicans left the bomb. Police said it could have had a "devastating outcome".

"The actions of terrorist criminals in planting this device in the Forkhill area put local people and police officers at significant risk," Chief Inspector Sam Cordner said.


"Their actions were reckless and dangerous in the extreme. Their target may have been the police, but they did not care who they killed or injured.

Chief Inspector Sam Cordner: "This was a device planted by reckless criminal terrorists"

"It is only through the hard work and professionalism of police officers and their military colleagues that the area has been made safe."

The BBC's Ireland Correspondent Mark Simpson said the discovery of the bomb was the most serious incident involving dissident republicans since the killing of two British soldiers and a police officer in March.

He said the most "worrying aspect for police" was the size of the bomb and that "even by Northern Ireland's grim standards, 600lb is a big device".

"It shows what the dissidents are capable of producing," he added.

"But at the same time the fact that the attack failed shows they lack the 'expertise' the IRA used to have during the troubles.

"What is more, even in hardline republican areas like south Armagh they lack significant public support. "

He said the question now was what forensic evidence had been left on the bomb.

The remains of the device, which contained fertiliser-based homemade explosives, have been removed for further examination.

The Irish Army and police carried out a similar security operation in the Republic.

The alert in the area began last Tuesday following a telephoned warning to a newspaper.

Sinn Fein MP for Newry and Armagh, Conor Murphy said he was "extremely concerned."

He said: "I would question the motives of those who are putting the local community in such danger.


"I challenge those who have planted this bomb in the community to come forward and explain why they have done so? How is this furthering the struggle for Irish freedom?"

SDLP MLA Dominic Bradley condemned those who planted the bomb and also questioned the police response.

"Everybody accepts the dangerous nature of policing this type of threat by the PSNI, however, serious questions must be asked about the response time in dealing with the device and evacuating people from their nearby homes.

"It seems the PSNI may have known about this bomb days before they moved people and if that's the case then it's certainly cause for much concern."

Resident Marian Hollywood: "They're out to kill me and my neighbours"

"The bomb was found 50 yards from Marian Hollywood's home."

Ulster Unionist deputy leader Danny Kennedy said the attempted attack was "deeply alarming".

"It is likely to assume that members of the PSNI were the target of this bomb; however had it detonated it could have killed any passer by," he said.

"This shows how reckless these republicans were in their targets and highlights their total disregard for human life."

DUP assembly member William Irwin said it was imperative people in the area helped police catch those responsible.

"There is still the very real threat of terrorism here in Northern Ireland and this has been proven once again by the murderous thugs who left this massive bomb near the border," he said.

In January, a 300lb bomb was defused in Castlewellan, County Down.

It is thought the bomb was planted by dissident republicans who were trying to target the Ballykinler army base.

In May the component parts of another fertiliser bomb were found near Rosslea in County Fermanagh.

About 100lbs of explosives were found in a field near the Donagh to Rosslea Road.
Good for him.

I hope Felix still drink for free in all bars!
Sir Hugh Orde was quick to express his views that when paraphrased are - RIRA are a bunch of dis-organised no hopers who shouldn't be given any credibility.

Hugh's Views ( see what I done there?) tritely downplays how the 'no hopers and disorganised' can move and place 600 hundred pounds of explosive in his baliwick and deny access to an area for several days while the zone is made safe?
As ever my admiration and respect for the 'bomb disposal heroes' is without limit. Defuse one bomb - wow! brave or what? Do it time and time again - unbelieveable.
Well done Q. Positive bomb magnet by the look of it.

Sergeant-major!!!! FFS

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