Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, due to visit Ireland north and south next week for four days, were the targets of a dissident republican plot, Irish police say.

Police arrested six people on Tuesday evening, discovering bombs and guns in the process.

Among those arrested was a key IRA dissident in his 60s who has close links to former dissident IRA leader Michael McKevitt.

He is believed to be an expert bomb-maker and has shown many younger dissidents how to create explosive devices.

According to the Irish Daily Mirror, police found the weapons in a town in Leitrim not far from where the royal couple are due to visit starting Tuesday. Security forces have been extra vigilant in the run-up to the high-profile visit, and two men in their twenties were arrested.

“There has been an increase in security ever since it was announced the British would be coming over. [Police] have been monitoring a number of people over the past few months. Nothing is being left to chance. There were two improvised viable devices in the car as well as a handgun,” a source told the Mirror.

Guns and makeshift bombs were also found in Louth, Wexford and Dublin, resulting in four more arrests. Reports indicate that those arrested have links to dissident Republican groups the Continuity IRA and the Real IRA.

Prince Charles and Camilla will undertake a number of engagements during their four day visit to Ireland, the most significant of which will be their trip to Mullaghmore in Sligo, where the prince’s beloved uncle Lord Mountbatten was killed by an IRA bomb in 1979 while on his fishing boat.

The royals are also scheduled to visit Galway, the Burren in Co. Clare and other locations in Sligo including Drumcliffe, where the great poet W.B. Yeats is buried, and the Sligo Races.

They will spend May 21 and 22 in Northern Ireland participating in a number of civic and cultural engagements. Security forces in the North have also been on high alert in advance of the visit.