DERRY — Northern Ireland Secretary of State Paul Murphy told the British House of Commons on Tuesday that he would extend sanctions against Sinn Féin, the political party linked to the Irish Republican Army (IRA), for a year. Murphy said Sinn Féin’s Northern Ireland Assembly grant, worth some £120,000 (about €173,000), would be suspended for an additional 12 months. The decision comes in the wake of the latest report from the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) accusing the IRA of being behind the theft of around €33 million from a Belfast bank in December. The IMC recommended imposing financial penalties on Sinn Féin. The commission was set up by the Irish and British governments to monitor paramilitary activity. An earlier IMC report, which detailed IRA involvement in smuggling and smaller robberies, led to the initial application of the sanctions.
DERRY — Police in the Irish Republic recovered €634,000 in British sterling notes on Sunday night in a series of raids in the south, the midlands, and Dublin areas of the country. These are the latest discoveries in an investigation into money laundering by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and tests are being carried out to determine whether any of the cash is part of the €38 million taken from a Belfast bank on 20 December. The Irish and British governments claim that the IRA stole the money. Police believe that some of those behind the laundering were working with a Bulgarian crime syndicate on plans to buy a bank or set up a front financial organization in that country. On Saturday, around UK£50,000 (over €72,500) was discovered at a Belfast sports club used by local policemen.
DERRY — Police in the Irish Republic have arrested seven people as part of an investigation into Irish Republican Army (IRA) money-laundering. Euro and sterling notes worth a total of €3.6 million were seized in capital Dublin and in Cork, and further police raids were ongoing areas in the midlands and east of the country. One raid on Thursday morning recovered £2 million (nearly €2.9 million) from a house in rural Cork. Senior detectives from Northern Ireland’s police were in Dublin on Friday for a security meeting with their counterparts in the Republic.
DERRY — The Independent Monitoring Commission set up by the Irish and British governments released a report on Thursday, saying that senior Sinn Féin members had advance knowledge of the theft, allegedly by the IRA, of some €31 million from a Belfast bank in December. Both governments have endorsed the findings. In Dublin, Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell said some of the politicians implicated in the report were household names, but the report did not name anyone directly. Sinn Féin is said to be the political wing of the Irish Republican Army and its president, Gerry Adams, responded to the IMC report by challenging the Irish government to either have him arrested or cease what he termed “unsubstantiated allegations.” Early on Friday, Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern described Adams’ comments as “a little bit childish…a little bit nonsense.”
DERRY — A 34-year-old man from the Irish Republic will appear in court on Wednesday to faces charges that he provided the getaway car used in the August 1998 Omagh bombing that killed 29 people and injured hundreds of others. It was the single greatest loss of life in Northern Ireland’s 30-year conflict. No one has been convicted in connection with the bombing. Last month, the Dublin Supreme Court overturned one of the suspects’ convictions, and he is now awaiting a retrial. Coming four months after the signing of the Good Friday Peace Agreement, the Omagh bombing was the work of the “Real” IRA, a dissident group that opposed the IRA ceasefire and its commitment to the peace agreement, which was meant to lay the foundations for a normalisation of Northern Ireland politics and society.
DERRY — The Irish Republican Army (IRA) announced on Thursday that it would withdraw the offer to allow its weapons to be destroyed and to end activities that might endanger the 1998 peace agreement. “We are taking our proposals off the table,” the group in a statement issued through the IRA newspaper, An Phoblacht. The announcement follows weeks of turmoil after a power-sharing deal offered by the British and Irish governments in December fell through due to disagreement over how to verify the destruction of IRA weaponry. The crisis deepened with the December robbery of a Belfast bank, in which the equivalent of €31.3 million was stolen. Both governments, backed by police and intelligence experts, have stated they believe the IRA carried out the raid.
DERRY – The head of Northern Ireland’s police vowed on Thursday to resign if it turns out that he was wrong in his accusations that the Irish Republican Army (IRA) was behind the theft of £26.5 million (€38 million) from a Belfast bank in December. Hugh Orde, Chief Constable of the Police Service for Northern Ireland (PSNI), stated publicly on 7 January that he believed that the IRA had carried out the robbery. On Monday, the IRA proclaimed its innocence, after Sinn Féin, the political party linked to the IRA, had described the allegations as a conspiracy aimed at undermining Northern Ireland’s peace process.
DERRY — In its first official statement since the head of Northern Ireland’s police accused them of stealing £26.5 million (nearly €38 million) from a Belfast bank, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) last night denied that it took the money. The denial comes amid a growing political crisis in Northern Ireland. The failure by Sinn Féin, the party linked to the IRA, and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), to forge a deal to restore the devolved government to Belfast has been compounded by the widespread belief that the IRA planned the heist, which is thought to be the largest in European history. Speaking at Westminster today, British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Paul Murphy described the robbery as a violation of the 1998 peace agreement. On 7 January, Hugh Orde, the head of Northern Ireland’s police said he believed that the IRA had carried out the robbery. He was backed by the Irish and British governments, as well as the other political parties in Northern Ireland, including the nationalist Social, Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP).
DERRY — Politicians and the public in Ireland and the UK have spent the weekend coming to terms with accusations that the Irish Republican Army (IRA) was responsible for a massive Belfast bank robbery on 20 December 2004.
Last Friday afternoon, Hugh Orde, Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), stated that he thought that “[…] the Provisional IRA were responsible for this crime and all main lines of inquiry currently undertaken are in that direction.” Orde was speaking after meeting key members of Northern Ireland’s policing board. Martin McGuinness, chief negotiator for Sinn Féin, the political party linked to the IRA, reacted to Orde’s comments by telling press that the IRA had told him that the group had not conducted the robbery, and that Orde’s comments were part of a politically-motivated campaign to undermine Sinn Féin and the peace process.
DERRY – Over £20 million (nearly €29 million) was stolen on Monday from a Belfast bank headquarters, in what was one of the largest robberies ever carried out in Ireland or Britain. Sam Kincaid, Assistant Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), said the robbery “was a well-organized crime”, and “could be paramilitary-related”. Former Special Branch police chief in Northern Ireland, Bill Lowry, told the pro-unionist Newsletter newspaper that the Provisional Irish Republican Army was the most likely suspect. Northern Bank headquarters, which holds cash for business clients and for the bank’s network of ATMs, was targeted in what appeared to be a meticulously planned operation.