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January 11, 2005

01/11/05 – SF Will Not Accept Lectures From British

Overall Table of Contents
Table of Contents - Jan 2005

SF 01/11/05 Sinn Féin Will Not Accept Lectures From British
IT 01/12/05 Murphy Pledges A Resolution Despite Bank Raid
IT 01/12/05 Van Used In Belfast Bank Raid Was Driven From South
IT 01/12/05 New Calls For Tougher Stance On Paramilitary Crime
UT 01/11/05 SF Pat Doherty To Defend Westminster Seat
DJ 01/11/05 Bloody Sunday Ruling 'Absolutely Scandalous'
IO 01/11/05 Judgement Reserved In Omagh Relatives' Application
TO 01/11/05 Neighbours Move Out As Neo-Nazis Rally To Adair's Side
IT 01/12/05 Government Wants Irish Troops In EU Battle Groups
IO 01/11/05 Emergency Services Braced For 100mph Winds -V (3)

PT 01/11/05 Blaming Of IRA For Bank Raid Batters Peace Process –V
PT 01/11/05 Albert Reynolds Discusses The Heist –V
PT 01/11/05 McGuinness Gives Reaction To The Blaming Of The IRA -V

Blaming Of IRA For Bank Raid Batters Peace Process - Rita O'Reilly reports on the fallout from PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde's assessment that the IRA carried out the Northern Bank raid

Former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds Discusses How The Heist may affect the peace process

Martin McGuinness Gives His Reaction To The Blaming Of The IRA for the £26 million raid


Sinn Féin Will Not Accept Lectures From British

Published: 11 January, 2005

Speaking in London after the British Secretary of State Paul Murphy made his statement to the British House of Commons concerning the unsubstantiated allegation made by securocrats alleging IRA involvement in the robbery at the Northern Bank, Sinn Féin National Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin said:

"Sinn Féin will stand over our record in the peace process.

"Sinn Féin's participation in this process and in any government is based entirely on our substantial electoral mandate and nothing else. We are the largest nationalist party in the six counties and the third largest party on this island. In contrast Paul Murphy has no mandate from the Irish people and we will not tolerate attempts by him to sanction or demonise the Sinn Féin electorate.

" Furthermore Sinn Féin will not take lectures from any British government on criminality when successive British governments engaged in a policy of state sanctioned murder against the nationalist community through their control and direction of the unionist death squads. The current British government of which Paul Murphy is part continues to cover-up this activity." ENDS


Murphy Pledges A Resolution Despite Bank Raid

Frank Millar, London Editor

The Northern Ireland Secretary, Mr Paul Murphy, has said the British government will not abandon its commitment to the "ultimate goal" of an inclusive political settlement despite the "deeply damaging" impact of the Northern Bank robbery attributed to the IRA.

At the same time Mr Murphy has raised the prospect of "penalties" that might be applied to Sinn Féin, and of seeking alternative interim political ways forward. This follows his admission that he could not foresee with certainty an inclusive power-sharing executive at Stormont.

He has also raised a serious question mark over the possible devolution of policing powers to any future Northern Ireland administration in the first real signal of a possible recasting of the British government's agenda.

Mr Murphy was speaking in the House of Commons ahead of a one-hour meeting between Mr Tony Blair and the Rev Ian Paisley in Downing Street yesterday afternoon, at which the DUP leader pressed the British Prime Minister to allow the North's political process to proceed without Sinn Féin.

Dr Paisley will meet Mr Blair again shortly to present specific DUP proposals. However, senior British sources are privately dismissing the possibility of a "voluntary coalition" involving both unionist parties and the SDLP, and say they would in any event only consider such an option if it commanded the support of the Irish Government.

One authoritative British source told The Irish Times that a more likely focus would be on the possible marriage of DUP proposals for Stormont Assembly scrutiny committees and an earlier SDLP suggestion that civic commissioners be appointed to discharge the work of the power-sharing Executive pending any new political deal.

However, the source conceded that the prospect of agreement on such an arrangement was not high, and that it would almost certainly be opposed by Mr David Trimble's Ulster Unionists.

In his statement to MPs reiterating his "utter condemnation of those who planned and carried out this appalling crime", Mr Murphy said the PSNI chief constable's judgment that the Provisional IRA was responsible for the Northern Bank robbery was "well founded".

Having been briefed fully on the background to the statement he made attributing responsibility last Friday, Mr Murphy assured the House of Commons that Mr Hugh Orde had not "rushed to judgment".

Former SDLP leader Mr John Hume pressed Mr Murphy to agree that - given Sinn Féin denials of republican responsibility and the damage being inflicted on the peace process - it was necessary that the evidence be published.

However, Mr Murphy said he had seen "a great deal of the evidence" and had no doubt that what the chief constable had said was right.

Challenged on the same point by the Liberal Democrats spokesman, Mr Lembit Opik, Mr Murphy repeated that it was not unusual for the chief constable to attribute blame across the board while doing nothing to the possible detriment of any future court action.

Mr Murphy again went out of his way to stress that this had been "in no sense a victimless crime". And he insisted: "The enormity of that robbery, and the savagery that went with it, is such that people can take no more."

At the same time Mr Murphy told Labour MP Ms Kate Hoey that "the most important thing is to seek to stop the criminality" which would ultimately enable the inclusive political settlement he believed the people of Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland still wished to see.

"Ruling nothing in or out", Mr Murphy resisted a series of Conservative and unionist demands for specific sanctions against Sinn Féin, insisting these could only be properly considered in the context of future discussions with the Irish Government and the Northern Ireland parties.

Signalling a possible rethink on the proposed devolution of policing powers, however, Mr Murphy said: "Let me reiterate . . . that this government will not promote a political settlement in which a party inextricably linked to an organisation which has carried out major criminal acts can assume responsibilities again in a devolved administration."

© The Irish Times


See video:

Van Used In Belfast Bank Raid Was Driven From South

The white van used to steal £26.5 million (€37.8 million) from the Northern Bank head office in Belfast was driven across the Border two hours before the robbery, the PSNI has said. Dan Keenan, Northern News Editor, reports

Police, revealing fresh information about the case in Belfast yesterday, also said that more than £10 million in stolen notes did not have their serial numbers recorded and could prove untraceable.

The Northern Bank pledged last week to replace all its banknotes in circulation, but this could take several weeks, giving the thieves valuable time to launder their haul.

Det Supt Andy Sproule, the senior investigating officer, said yesterday that his team knew that the distinctive white Ford van was driven across the Border on the main Belfast road at around 5 p.m. on December 20th, the day of the robbery.

It made two visits to Wellington Street in Belfast, according to CCTV evidence, at a side entrance to the bank at 7.12 p.m. and again at 8.12 p.m., but its whereabouts after that remain unknown. Details of its movements are "particularly important", Det Supt Sproule said.

Speaking from the investigation incident room in north Belfast, he said: "Where did the van go? Somebody must have seen it." Following the claim by the Chief Constable, Mr Hugh Orde, of IRA involvement, Det Supt Sproule said he was aware the public could be afraid to come forward because of perceived paramilitary threats.

Emphasising the importance to the investigation of the van and its movements, he said the van was a Ford Transit 350 long-wheelbase model with an unusual box design and lifting tailgate.

It had distinctive lamps on the cab roof, and the storage compartment did not extend over the driving position as in other models. So unusual was the van, the police said, that it took time to provide a mock-up model for last week's crime reconstruction at the bank.

The PSNI said that, of the £26.5 million taken, a significant portion would prove difficult to trace since serial numbers were unknown. Police have concluded that £1.15 million in new Northern Bank £100 notes and £50 notes was stolen, and they do not know the serial numbers. In addition, the gang stole £4.4 million in used Northern Bank notes, £950,000 in used Bank of Ireland notes, £900,000 in used First Trust notes, £200,000 in used Bank of England notes and a further £2.4 million in assorted used notes, and no serial numbers are known for these. No notes for which serial numbers are known have so far turned up.

Det Supt Sproule appealed for a couple with a child in a pushchair, who reported suspicious activity in the bank's vicinity to a traffic warden, to come forward.

Police were called to the scene after a couple said they had seen men possibly wearing wigs and carrying baseball bats. However, officers arrived just minutes after the van left the scene. He admitted the PSNI does not know the whereabouts of the white van or the stolen cash. Thousands of hours of CCTV recordings are being examined in a process expected to take months.

The 45-strong detective team was involved in a major protracted investigation, Det Supt Sproule added.

Some 850 lines of inquiry are being followed, 300 people have been interviewed, 140 statements have been taken and 700 exhibits are being examined by forensic experts.

He admitted the gang had operated in a manner described as "forensically aware" and would not be drawn by The Irish Times as to whether or not useful forensic clues had been uncovered at the homes of the two bank officials which were taken over by the gang for 24 hours while the robbery was carried out.

Det Supt Sproule said the PSNI had excellent co-operation with the Garda.

"They are helping us with many aspects of the investigation," he said, adding that he was encouraged by the response to police appeals from throughout Ireland.

© The Irish Times


New Calls For Tougher Stance On Paramilitary Crime

Dan Keenan, Northern News Editor

The SDLP, DUP and Alliance Party have urged the British government to toughen its stance against paramilitary activity.

Mr Eddie McGrady, the SDLP MP for South Down, has accused the government of repeating a mantra about non-acceptance of paramilitary violence and crime, and of caving in to republican pressure.

The DUP deputy leader, Mr Peter Robinson, said the government had to end its "tolerance of IRA behaviour".

The Alliance Party said the IRA had continued certain activities "with impunity", and that republicans now had to "sign up to agreed common standards".

Mr McGrady said a statement by the Northern Secretary, Mr Murphy, that there could be "absolutely no place for terrorist activity, and there can be no place for criminal activity" had been heard time and time again.

He said criminality in the North would only cease if the two governments ceased to be intimidated by "the paramilitary force of Sinn Féin and the IRA".

Mr Robinson demanded that Mr Murphy "specify" the Provisional IRA as a terrorist organisation.

"It is clear that, following Florida, Colombia, Stormont and Castlereagh, as well as the 22 murders committed by the IRA during its so-called ceasefire, their having engaged in 250 shootings and 400 beatings and now a £26.5 million bank raid, there is a powerful reason for the Secretary of State to end his tolerance of IRA behaviour."

He also said the UDA should publicly disown the criminal elements who were still engaged in intimidation, racketeering and drug dealing.

Alliance Party justice spokesman Mr Stephen Farry, said the "problem of continued Republican paramilitary and criminal activity" would now have to be addressed.

"The confirmation by the chief constable of IRA involvement in the Northern Bank raid now puts all IRA paramilitary and criminal activity on the agenda."

© The Irish Times


Doherty To Defend Westminster Seat

Sinn Fein vice president Pat Doherty is to defend his Westminster seat in the next General Election, the party confirmed today.

By:Press Association

The West Tyrone MP was selected last night at a convention in Carrickmore.

Mr Doherty is defending the 5,040 majority over the Ulster Unionists which he secured when we won the seat in 2001 from William Thompson.

Former nationalist SDLP Agriculture Minister Brid Rodgers finished last in the three way contest four years ago with 13,942 votes, just 832 votes behind Mr Thompson.

In his acceptance speech Mr Doherty said he was honoured to have been chosen to fight the seat again.

The West Tyrone MP explained: "Our objective in these forthcoming elections is to consolidate the four Westminster seats that we secured in 2001 and to win additional Westminster seats.

"In terms of the local elections our aim is to win a substantial number of additional council seats including here in West Tyrone."

Sinn Fein currently has two Assembly members in the constituency, with its three candidates in November 2003`s Stormont elections amassing a total of 16,111 votes.

The Democratic Unionists, with one MLA Tom Buchanan, secured 7,286 votes.

But it is the votes of independent hospitals campaigner, Dr Kieran Deeny which will attract the most interest.

Dr Deeny topped the Assembly Election poll in the constituency with 6,158 votes, campaigning on a single issue ticket to save hospital services in Omagh.

He has since indicated that he may form his own political party and it is unclear whether he will fight the Westminster seat.

The nationalist SDLP lost one of its two Assembly seats in the November 2003 election, with Policing Board member Joe Byrne the main casualty.

Eugene McMenamin remained at Stormont as the party drew a total of 6,110 votes.

The Ulster Unionists, whose Assembly member Derek Hussey retained his seat, captured 5,567 votes.


Bloody Sunday Ruling 'Absolutely Scandalous'

Tuesday 11th January 2005

Sinn Fein leader, Martin McGuinness has described the imprisonment of Derry republican Martin Doherty for refusing to give evidence to the Bloody Sunday Inquiry as scandalous.

On Friday Mr. Doherty was sentenced to three months in prison for refusing to give a statement to the inquiry with the sentence due to take effect yesterday at noon if he still had not co-operated.

Mr. Doherty told the 'Journal' that he would not be making any statement to the Inquiry as he had not been present on Bloody Sunday and the only allegations against him came from 'a helicopter killing informer.'

Reacting angrily to the news of Mr. Doherty's sentence Martin McGuinness said: "The fact that a Belfast Court decided to imprison Derry republican, Martin Doherty for his refusal to co-operate with the Saville Inquiry is absolutely scandalous.

"Martin took a decision that this Inquiry into the murder of Derry citizens by British troops would not serve the families of the Bloody Sunday victims in particular and the people of Derry in general."

He added: "That the only person to be imprisoned as a result of the murders by British Paratroopers in Derry in 1972 is a Derry republican is a clear indication of the mindset of the British judiciary in Ireland.

"British politicians and members of the British forces were allowed to treat the Inquiry from its inception with utter contempt without even an admonishment from either the Inquiry itself or from the British Prime Minister who promised full disclosure of all material relevant to the Inquiry.

"The Saville Inquiry should have this decision reversed immediately."

Martin Doherty, one of the leading republicans in the city in the 1970's, was subpoenaed to appear before the Bloody Sunday Inquiry.

Held in contempt When he refused he was taken before the High Court and held in contempt.

Mr. Doherty said that he was 'hounded, harassed and intimidated' by the Inquiry in an attempt to make him co-operate.

On Friday Lord Justices Kerr and Campbell imposed the three month sentence to start at noon yesterday if Mr. Doherty does not co-operate.

Mr. Doherty said: "The republican movement killed no one on Bloody Sunday when British soldiers murdered people on our streets yet it appears that I, a republican, am going to be the only person to go to prison over Bloody Sunday.

"The Inquiry, in my opinion, is going to put a large part of the blame for Bloody Sunday on republicans and I am the first scapegoat."


Court Reserves Judgement In Omagh Relatives' Application

11/01/2005 - 19:15:36

The Special Criminal Court has reserved judgement in an application by relatives of the Omagh bomb victims for documentation to help their civil compensation case against those suspected of carrying out the 1998 atrocity.

Lawyers for the relatives applied to the court for transcripts and books of evidence relating to a number of recent trials at the court involving men who are named in the Belfast High Court action.

The relatives are suing Michael Mc Kevitt, Liam Campbell, Colm Murphy, Seamus Daly, Seamus McKenna and the Real IRA for €20m.

Former FBI agent David Rupert who gave evidence in the trial of Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt in Dublin will be one of the witnesses called by the relatives legal team and is expected to give evidence by video link.

The Omagh bombing killed 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins, and injured more than 300 in August, 1998. It was the worst single terrorist atrocity in the 30 years of the Troubles.

Michael Mc Kevitt (aged 54), of Beech Park, Blackrock, Co Louth was jailed for 20 years in August 2003 for directing the activities of a terrorist organisation and for membership of an illegal organisation.

Colm Murphy (aged 51), of Jordan's Corner, Ravensdale, Co Louth was jailed for 14 years in January 2002 after he was convicted of conspiracy to cause an explosion between August 13 and 16, 1998.

Liam Campbell (aged 41), of Upper Faughart, Dundalk, Co Louth was sentenced to eight years imprisonment in May 2004 for membership of the Real IRA on separate dates in 2000 and 2001.

Seamus Daly (aged 33), of Culloville, Castleblayney, Co Monaghan was jailed for three and half years in May 2004 after he pleaded guilty to membership of the Real IRA on November 20, 2000.

Seamus Mc Kenna (aged 49), of Marian Park, Dundalk, Co Louth was jailed for six years last month for the possession of an explosive substance in Co Louth in June, 2003.

Today Lord Brennan QC, for the Omagh relatives, told the court that Mr Justice Morgan had heard an application in Belfast last week relating to the claim. He said that the judge had indicated that he was willing to make an order for discovery against the five defendants but did not want to offend the jurisdiction of the Special Criminal Court or compromise the position of the defendants.

Lord Brennan submitted that the decision to disclose the transcripts was an administrative decision and within the jurisdiction of the Special Criminal Court.

Mr Patrick Mc Carthy SC, who appeared for Mc Kevitt, Daly, Campbell and Mc Kenna, submitted that the court had no jurisdiction to order the disclosure of the transcripts.

"This is a civil matter. You have no power to entertain the application under the statute," he said.

Mr George Birmingham SC for the DPP, said that his instructions were that there was no question of there being a contempt of court if the transcripts or books of evidence were released.

Mr Paul O’Higgins SC, for the Attorney General, said that it was impossible to see any prejudice arising from releasing the transcripts which were accurate representations of the proceedings of the court.

Mr Justice Richard Johnson, presiding, said the court would be in a position to say at the end of the month when it will deliver judgement in the application.


January 12, 2005

Neighbours Move Out As Neo-Nazis Rally To Adair's Side

By David Lister in Belfast and Russell Jenkins

THEY look like a cross between the Hitler Youth and the Village People on steroids, but a group of camp-looking German neo-Nazis may offer the only hope of salvaging the once-proud reputation of Johnny Adair, the notorious loyalist terrorist.

It is not so long ago that Adair, 41, who was released from prison on Monday and is now living in a suburb of Bolton, was worshipped by thousands of extremists across Northern Ireland and honoured with the nickname “Mad Dog”.

But is is a measure of how far Adair has fallen that the only people now brave enough to voice their support for him are a group of about 20 skinheads in Dresden, the former heartland of Hitler’s Third Reich.

As Adair recovered from a late-night party with some of his former cohorts to celebrate his release, his terrorist rivals poked fun at his friends in Germany yesterday and said that they would not be deterred from trying to murder Adair if he ever returned to Belfast.

One said that he remained the “No 1 target” for the Ulster Defence Association, Northern Ireland’s largest loyalist paramilitary group, which drove Adair’s family and former followers from Belfast in a feud two years ago.

“As far as we’re concerned he’s a nobody, and so are these Germans,” the source said. The warning came as the blinds at the drab terraced house rented by Adair’s family in Horwich, Bolton, remained down and the reinforced door firmly closed.

Inside, Adair was taking no callers. Several plain-clothes police officers were the only people to gain admittance, entering the house shortly before 11am to remind Adair that they will be watching his every move. Within half an hour of Adair arriving a “to let” sign went up on a neighbour’s property, prompting speculation that some residents are already fleeing their homes.

Neighbours expressed fears about becoming caught up in a feud between Adair and his rivals in Belfast. One woman in Maureen’s hairdresser’s, close to the Adair home, told The Times: “I’m not too bothered about his arrival but the trouble is that people might be after him.” Adair is now so isolated that even the majority of his old friends have deserted him, and the words of support from Germany were one of the few consolations for him yesterday.

Extreme loyalists in Northern Ireland have long enjoyed links with far-right organisations in Germany, but the Dresden group has pushed this to new limits by setting up its own special unit in homage to Adair, showering him with letters and even tattooing his terrorist slogans across their bodies. At least one was arrested by police in Germany last week as he sought to cross the border into France en route to England, where he had hoped to be at Adair’s side to welcome him out of jail.

The man, who has the Adair slogan “Simply the Best” tattooed across his back above the insignia of the terrorist leader’s “C Company”, wrote to him before setting out. He said: “We decided to salute you in Bolton on the day when you get out of prison. Me and two friends will come to . . . show our friendship to you.

“I want to know you (sic) you have now up to 20 comrades in a own (sic) “C” Company group in my area around Dresden. C Coy is still alive and you are still the chef (sic). You have our unbroken loyalty.”

Adair, a former National Front supporter, told a Belfast newspaper at the weekend that the man, known only as “Nick”, had wanted to help him after his release from jail. He said: “Nick is a bit disappointed that he won’t be able to see me when I get out of jail. Nick and his friends have been to see Gina (Adair’s wife and the kids before.”

Speculation was mounting yesterday that Adair, whose “C Company” on Belfast’s Shankill Road killed about 40 Roman Catholics in the early 1990s, may move abroad using the personal fortune security officials believe that he has amassed.

But they are concerned that it is only a matter of time before his ego gets the better of him and he tries to recapture his old stamping ground in Belfast.


Government Wants Irish Troops In EU Battle Groups

Mark Hennessy, Political Correspondent

The Government wants Irish soldiers to join the European Union's proposed rapid reaction battle groups despite its promise not to join any military force not approved by the United Nations.

On Sunday, the Minister for Defence, Mr O'Dea, said Irish participation in the battle groups had been ruled out for the foreseeable future because of legal and constitutional difficulties.

Last night, however, the Department of Defence said the Minister intended to brief the Cabinet "later this year" about the options available to get over the hurdles.

"We want to be in a position to be able to participate. The battle groups are still being devised. They aren't yet in place," an official close to the Minister said.

"It could be that we could be accommodated without having to change legislation.We have to find out the final positions of other countries. Some other countries have issues too."

The Minister could propose changes to the 1960 Defence (Amendment) Act, which authorised the despatch of Defence Force contingents for service with UN detachments, the official said.

Before the second Nice Treaty referendum, the Government said Irish soldiers would not join any international military force unless the UN, the Oireachtas and the Government approved - the so-called "triple-lock".

Last November, EU defence ministers decided to establish 13 battle groups, each 1,500-strong, that would be deployable within 15 days for crisis management around the world without using NATO structures.

The first battle group is to be set up later this year, while 11 of them should be ready by 2007. Ireland had shown interest in co-operating with the Finns and Swedes. Currently, Ireland cannot join the battle groups because the UN would not be able to sanction them before they went into action, the Minister for Defence said on Sunday.

Since Ireland lacks the resources to form a battle group, it will be necessary to co-operate with other states, preferably neutral countries like Sweden or Finland.

However, Finnish or Swedish soldiers could not come to Ireland to take part in armed exercise because the Constitution states that there can only be one army in the State.

Article 15.6 of Bunreacht na hÉireann states that only the Oireachtas can raise or maintain a military or armed force, though there are differing views within the Government about whether this applies to invited military forces.

Meanwhile Fine Gael defence spokesman Mr Billy Timmins urged the Government to produce legislation quickly to ensure the Defence Forces can join the battle groups immediately.

"Ireland has been closely involved in the formation of EU battle groups from the start, so for Minister O'Dea to suddenly start backing off due to last-minute nerves is diplomatically unwise.

"If new legislation is necessary, then the Minister must immediately set about drafting it," Mr Timmins said. The Minister appears to be making one excuse after another to rule out Irish involvement, he added.

"In 2001 I asked former defence minister Michael Smith in the Dáil whether legislation would be required for Irish troops to train on foreign soil. He told me that 'if legislation is necessary we will introduce it'.

"I would like Minister O'Dea to explain just what has changed since his predecessor made those remarks, and whether he has any plans to amend or draft legislation," said Mr Timmins.

The UN would not be able to approve battle group missions quickly enough. "As Fine Gael has argued consistently, this is why the triple lock must be removed."

© The Irish Times


Winter's worst storm hits across country - Eileen Magnier, North-West Correspondent, reports on the stormy conditions experienced across the region

Jim Fahy, Western Correspondent, reports that the west escaped serious flooding from today's storm

Eileen Magnier reports live from Killybegs on the latest on the storm

Emergency Services Braced For 100mph Winds -V (3)

11/01/2005 - 18:44:42

Emergency services were on alert tonight with 100 mile per hour winds expected to wreak havoc across the country.

People were being advised to stay indoors, with structural damage to buildings and floods predicted, as a powerful storm battered the west coast.

Met Eireann issued a severe weather warning as heavy rain and winds of up to 93mph were recorded at Belmullet off the north west Coast of Mayo, while gusts of up to 63mph were recorded at Dublin Airport.

Emergency crews, including the civil defence teams, were on standby along the western coast, which was expected to be the worst hit area. The high winds were expected to sweep eastwards during the evening.

Forecasters expected winds to hit 55mph with gusts of between 80 to 100mph in the west and north. Met Eireann said a combination of very high tides and onshore gales would increase the risk of coastal flooding.

The country was just recovering from a weekend of gales and heavy rain which caused floods in parts of the south.

The high winds caused disruption across the country during the evening, with some walls knocked down and buildings in Galway suffering structural damage.

Around 2,500 customers were without electricity due to small problems across the network from Mayo up to Donegal.

The ESB said it hoped to have power restored this evening if the weather did not deteriorate further.

The AA urged drivers to take care with reports of fallen trees causing traffic chaos.

Fallen trees and other debris have caused delays across the country’s roads. The Millicent Bridge in Sallins, Co Kildare, is blocked by a fallen tree, and there are reports of problems in Donegal and Letterkenny.

In Co Limerick, the N20 between Croom and Banogue was partially blocked by a tree, while in Co Clare, a telephone pole was felled on the Sandfield Road in Ennis.

In Malahide in Co Dublin, a high tide has caused flooding on Bissets Strand, Strand Road and Estuary Road. Motorists were advised to avoid the area.

Drivers were warned to take care as conditions rapidly deteriorated in Co Galway and Co Mayo.

A number of schools in the north west have announced early closures today.

Ferry services to offshore islands in the west have been cancelled.

The seas off the west coast were described as “mountainous” with swells of up to 20 foot.

Galway Harbour Master, Brian Sheridan, said there was a risk of flooding at high tide in the city during the evening. He appealed to people to avoid the piers and quays for fear of being swept out to sea.

John Leech, Irish Water Safety chief executive, has warned motorists in the west and south and people living near rivers to be extremely vigilant.

“Motorists need to be particularly vigilant to avoid flooded areas on roads but particularly near rivers,” he said.

Most of the fishing fleets across the south and west coasts were sheltering in harbour.

The harsh winds and rain also led to the cancellation of air services.

Aer Arann suspended flights in and out of the Aran Islands, Dublin, Sligo, Donegal, Kerry, Waterford and Galway.

Aer Lingus and Ryanair both also moved to cancel a small number of flights.

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