Irish police arrest seven people in IRA laundering probe – ISN

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.

Northern Ireland Omagh attacker to face charges – ISN

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.

Northern Ireland : IRA withdraws offer to disarm – ISN

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.

Northern Ireland police chief to quit if wrong about heist – ISN

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.

Northern Ireland bank robbery blamed on IRA, heist could derail talks – ISN

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.

Northern Ireland police probe IRA robbery link – ISN

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.

Northern Ireland trying to picture peace – ISN

DERRY – The latest attempts to forge a breakthrough in Northern Ireland’s peace process appear to have failed this morning, with the verification of IRA disarmament the remaining stumbling block. Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader, Reverend Ian Paisley, said while “we’ve never been closer to a settlement”, the IRA must “surrender”. However, it appears that the IRA will not consent to giving photographic evidence that their weapons have been destroyed – a key DUP demand. Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams, whose party is regarded as the IRA’s political wing, said last night the IRA would not “submit to humiliation” by giving photographic evidence of disarmament. Northern Ireland’s three decades of civil conflict up to 1998 saw over 3,600 people killed as mostly Catholic Irish nationalists and republicans, who want Northern Ireland to merge with the Republic of Ireland to the south, faced off against mostly Protestant unionists or loyalists who want to remain part of the United Kingdom. British soldiers flooded Northern Ireland but were viewed by many nationalists as a hostile occupation force.

Northern Ireland talks hit fever pitch – ISN

DERRY – It has been two weeks since the Irish and British governments handed Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) its revised terms for the restoration of devolution to Northern Ireland, a key part of the 1998 peace deal that ended three decades of civil conflict in the region. Since then, both parties have consulted their grassroots, come up with responses and requests for clarification for the governments, and engaged in a series of talks with relevant policymakers in Belfast, Dublin, and London. However their respective dealings have not included face-to-face meetings as the DUP refuses to meet with a party it sees as indistinguishable from the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA). The discussions have so far been mediated by the Irish and British governments. This morning the DUP leader Reverend Ian Paisley was in London to meet British Prime Minister Tony Blair, while a Sinn Féin delegation led by Gerry Adams was in Dublin to meet the Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern.

Northern Ireland’s Kent talks fail – ISN

DERRY — Three days of intensive talks on Northern Ireland’s political future ended on Saturday afternoon without a deal. However  the Irish and British governments remained positive in the aftermath of this latest failure to resolve the ongoing problems in fully implementing the Good Friday Agreement, Northern Ireland’s landmark peace deal forged in 1998. Both British Prime Minster Tony Blair and his Irish counterpart Bertie Ahern believe that the basis is there for an agreement in the near future. Held at Leeds Castle in Kent in the south of England, the much-anticipated talks opened amid an uncertain atmosphere.

Northern Ireland loyalist assassin given life sentence for 1989 murder of lawyer – ISN

DERRY — The saga around one of Northern Ireland’s most controversial political assassinations reached a conclusion of sorts on Thursday with the jailing of a former loyalist paramilitary. Ken Barrett, 41, admitted to being one a group of masked gunmen who in February 1989 shot prominent Catholic solicitor Pat Finucane 14 times as he ate a Sunday meal with his family. Finucane was a high-profile lawyer who represented republican clients – but also worked with Protestants. Barrett, then a member the loyalist paramilitary group, the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), was given a minimum 22 year sentence. However, he could be released within just a few months as part of the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, Northern Ireland’s landmark 1998 peace deal. The peace deal included an amnesty for politically-motivated crimes committed during Northern Ireland’s 30-year civil conflict.