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February 19, 2005

02/19/05 – Bank Notes Found in RUC Club

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Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Feb 2005

IO 02/19/05 No Bank Notes Found In RUC Athletic Club -A
BT 02/19/05 PSNI: Ulster Find 'May Be A Diversion'
IC 02/19/05 Fury At UUP Leaflet
IC 02/19/05 Editorial: Withdraw Leaflet
BB 02/19/05 SF 'Will Weather Political Storm'
BT 02/19/05 McGuinness In 'Denial' Storm
UT 02/19/05 Tests On Bank Notes Today
BT 02/19/05 IRA Suspect Had SF Links
CN 02/19/05 Banker Freed In 'IRA Cash' Probe
BT 02/19/05 Ahern Aide Flynn Linked To Titanic Quarter Plan
GU 02/19/05 Spotlight Turns To Slick IRA Money-Making Machine
IO 02/19/05 Durkan: SF Trying To 'Obscure' McCartney Investigation
BT 02/19/05 Opin: Election Glory Is Fading Amidst Stealing & Murder
BT 02/19/05 Viewpoint: No Hiding Place For Sinn Fein
IO 02/19/05 Rabbitte: No Evidence Of Split In Republicanism
GU 02/19/05 Opin: Crisis Threatens To Halt The Advance Of Sinn Féin
BT 02/19/05 Adams In New IRA Row Over Memorial In Strabane
BT 02/19/05 Shake-Up Urged For Polling Office
BT 02/19/05 Rugby Star At Centre Of Club Assault Probe


BBC 07:15AM Police in Northern Ireland have found more cash thought to come from the Northern Bank robbery in Belfast before Christmas. Our correspondent Kevin Connolly.

Northern Bank Notes Found In Belfast Country Club

19/02/2005 - 14:39:50

Money found last night at a police sports club in Belfast contained Northern Bank notes, police sources have confirmed.

The find was made at the Newforge Country Club in south Belfast. The Police Service have not said how much was recovered but it is understood to be relatively small in relation to the €3m found on Thursday in Cork.

The club is owned by the RUC Athletic Association and is used exclusively by serving and retired officers.

A PSNI spokesman said of the find: “Initial checks would suggest this incident is an effort to distract police investigating the Northern Bank robbery and also divert attention away from events elsewhere over the last two days.”

Nevertheless the discovery was being treated seriously, and the money was being examined to see whether it would lead detectives back to those responsible for the robbery, he said.

The find came after a call was made to the offices of the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman, it was revealed today.

The PSNI said the call was received last night by a person purporting to be a police officer.

“As a result of this call police carried out a search of Newforge and packages of what appeared to be money were found. These are currently being examined,” said a spokesman.

The Bank of Scotland today swiftly appointed a new chairman to its Irish operations after the former boss resigned last night after becoming embroiled in the money laundering investigation.

Former Sinn Féin Vice President Phil Flynn, a trusted advisor to An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, and industrial relations trouble-shooter, was questioned by officers from the Criminal Assets Bureau after it emerged he was a non-executive director of Chesterton Finance, a company at the centre of the investigation.

Mr Flynn insisted he had absolutely no involvement in money laundering and had stood down from the bank to protect his integrity.

He also quit the board of a health insurer and as chairman of the national implementation body overseeing decentralisation in Ireland.

The new bank chairman is Ron Garrick, deputy chairman of the bank’s parent company HBOS Plc.


Ulster Find 'May Be A Diversion'

By Deborah McAleese

19 February 2005

Cash which may be linked to the Northern Bank robbery was found last night at a sports complex used by police in Belfast.

Detectives were called to the Newforge Country Club last night after the undisclosed sum of money was found.

A PSNI spokeswoman said: "Initial checks would suggest this incident is an effort to distract police investigating the Northern Bank robbery and also to divert attention away from events elsewhere over the last two days.

"Nonetheless, police are taking the find seriously, and the material received will be examined to see whether it will lead the investigating team back to those who committed the robbery."


Fury At UUP Leaflet

New campaign flier implies Catholics are less industrious than Protestants; denies that nationalists are the victims of employment discrimination; and claims that the PSNI will become ‘unfair’ with a 50/50 religious quota

by Joe Nawaz

A controversial new campaign leaflet distributed by the Ulster Unionist Party implies that Catholics are less industrious than Protestants, denies that nationalists are the victims of employment discrimination and claims that the PSNI will become ‘unfair’ with a 50/50 religious quota.

The leaflet, entitled ‘It’s Not Fair’, features a list of areas in which the UUP claim that unionists are losing out to nationalists.

Representatives across the political spectrum united this week to condemn the leaflet, which many see as an opportunistic attempt to win ground from the DUP.

Water charges, the leaflet states, will affect unionists more because "rates and water charges will be based on the capital value of your home, penalising those who have worked and saved to own their home."

Jim Barbour, spokesperson for the ‘We Won’t Pay’ anti-water charges campaign refuted the leaflet’s allegations and described its authors as "reprehensible".

"This is utterly abusive. Never mind religion – people, rich and poor, across the board will be affected by the water charges.

"I am disgusted that the UUP would stoop to these levels."


A controversial new campaign leaflet, distributed by the Ulster Unionist Party, has upset a leading anti-water charges campaigner who says he’s “disgusted” that the party would “stoop to these levels” while South politicians have angrily lashed the flier as “offensive” and “hateful”

Jim Barbour, spokesperson for the ‘We Won’t Pay’ anti-water charges campaign has refuted claims contained in a new Ulster Unionist Party election leaflet and described its authors as "reprehensible".

The leaflet’s most contentious claim is that unionists will be particularly badly affected by water charges because they have “worked and saved to own their home.”

"This is utterly abusive. Never mind religion – people, rich and poor, across the board will be affected by the water charges,” said Jim Barbour.

"I am disgusted that the UUP would stoop to these levels."

On alleged discrimination against state schools, the leaflet claims, "proposed school budgets will reduce yearly funding in the state sector by three pounds per pupil and increase funding in the maintained (Roman Catholic) sector by five pounds per pupil."

The controversial pamphlet goes on to claim that employment discrimination against Nationalists in the North is a "lie".

"The government accepts the republican lie alleging discrimination against nationalists.

"It’s time for the Equality Commission to publicly state that there is no discrimination against Catholics."

South Belfast MLA Alex Maskey dismissed the leaflet as “offensive” and said he was amazed at its use of language.

"For a start, their assertions are incorrect, sectarian and very dangerous and divisive.

"In areas like education, there has been a lot of cross-party co-operation to fight budget cuts and to get a better deal for all our children,” he said.

The South Belfast councillor added: "For them now to come out with this is disgraceful. Catholics pay rates and work hard as well and for them to say that we are getting a better deal is simply ridiculous.

"This leaflet is deeply offensive to an entire community."

Cllr Maskey went on: "How does this hateful language square with their new-found, bleeding-heart despair for their own community?

"I despair at the maturity at these people – the bottom line is that this is offensive and sectarian and will do a lot of damage."

A UUP insider said that he believed that the party was wrongly attempting to "outdo the DUP".

"I got this through my letter box a few days ago,” he said.

"I couldn’t believe it. Even if you ignore the sectarian aspect of the comments, for us to attack the British government after we called for direct rule is hypocritical at best.

"This is not going to win any voters back from the DUP and it certainly won’t appeal to our own voters."

Prospective Alliance councillor for Laganbank, Allan Leonard, said that he found the wording of the leaflet remarkable.

"I can’t understand the mentality at work here. The UUP have produced a hateful and ludicrous document. To imply that Protestants have less rights than Catholics is just crazy and harmful.

"Is this the kind of stuff that the UUP will be producing from now on?"

Speaking from the UUP headquarters yesterday, an Ulster unionist spokesperson denied accusations that the leaflet was sectarian.

"The intention of the leaflet is certainly not to be divisive. It is flagging up legitimate concerns that ordinary unionist people hold.

"If people choose to see it as sectarian, then that is their choice," he said.

Journalist:: Joe Nawaz


Editorial: Withdraw Leaflet

The sooner that the Ulster Unionist Party withdraws the disgraceful election flier featured on our front page this week the better for all concerned.

The UUP can protest all it wants about people finding offence where they want to, but the fact of the matter is that politicians and anti-water charge campaigners have united in their abhorrence of the claims and allegations made in this cynical and opportunistic leaflet.

To claim – as the leaflet clearly does – that unionists will suffer disproportionately from water charges because they are more likely to own their own homes after having worked and saved hard is more reminiscent of politics in the year 1955 than the year 2005. The charges will hit every member of the community right across the range, from the penny-scraping single parent struggling to get by to hard-working homeowners of all political persuasions and none. To seek to divide the community on this issue, which has seen unprecedented levels of cross-community support, is a shabby and cynical move and reflects no credit on the authors.

Also included in the leaflet is a claim that maintained schools, or as the UUP insultingly prefers to dub them, ‘Roman Catholic’ schools, are getting preferential treatment over state schools. Not only does this fly in the face of the facts, but it is again to undermine the sterling cross-party work which has been done on crucial issue of education. And it is worth pointing out that whoever wrote the report does not refer to state schools as ‘Protestant’ schools. We wonder why.

That the UUP will claim that there is no discrimination against Catholics is perhaps unsurprising, as that has been an article of unionist faith for many years. But for the UUP to claim that 50-50 recruitment in the PSNI will lead to discrimination against Protestants is as unhelpful as it is inaccurate.

Who can be afraid of a recruitment policy aimed at upping the number of Catholics in the service to more accurately reflect the number of Catholics in society, thereby attracting the support of increasing numbers of nationalists?

If this leaflet is now withdrawn and disowned by Cunningham House, that will say much more about the UUP than one small piece of paper ever could.


SF 'Will Weather Political Storm'

Sinn Fein has not been involved in any robberies and will "weather" the current political storm, Gerry Adams has insisted.

The party president said it was "a serious situation" and there was a "trial by media".

He insisted reports Sinn Fein "had lost control of the IRA" were incorrect as the party "never had control of the IRA".

Mr Adams was speaking in a BBC interview in Dublin on Saturday.

"What Sinn Fein was able to do with others, was put together packages or propositions which created a context which the IRA was prepared to support," he said.

"The notion that is propagated, that in some way that the IRA is run by myself and Martin McGuinness... that there is some big movement that is joined up at the hip and that it has the same leadership - that is a nonsense."

Later on Saturday, he will attend a Sinn Fein executive meeting in Dublin.

He said: "It is a nonsense to talk about these other parties being patient on us, as if in some way they had not vigorously contested every single vote with us.

"As if... even in elections in the north, they had not come out in support of our political opponents.

"We weather this storm and when all is said and done, when the truth of the matters that are now being focused in on, when that emerges... the peace process will have to be put together again.

"I intend that Sinn Fein should play a constructive role in doing that."

'Might be wrong'

BBC Northern Ireland political correspondent Gareth Gordon said: "Mr Adams arrives home to take charge of the biggest crisis facing Sinn Fein in years. For republicans a bad situation just continues to get worse.

"The Northern Bank robbery, followed by the furore over the killing of Short Strand man Robert McCartney amidst allegations witnesses have been intimidated.

"Mr Adams says he's standing by his view that the IRA was not involved in the Northern Bank robbery. But more fingers are now pointing in that direction than ever."

Police have blamed December's Northern Bank raid on the IRA, a charge the organisation has denied.

On Thursday, £2m, £60,000 of it in Northern Bank notes, was seized in the Irish Republic.

On Wednesday, Mr Adams said he "might be wrong" in his belief the IRA was not involved in the £26.5m Northern Bank raid.

However, he insisted Sinn Fein had nothing to do with the raid at the bank's headquarters on 20 December.

Mr Adams made the comments in an interview for a Spanish radio station, during a three-day visit to Spain.

In a statement released by Mr Adams later on Wednesday, he claimed he had been misrepresented.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/02/19 12:46:32 GMT


McGuinness In 'Denial' Storm

By Chris Thornton
19 February 2005

Sinn Fein chief Martin McGuinness was plunged into the IRA money-laundering storm last night when he denied knowing a party member he campaigned for in 2002.

Mr McGuinness claimed he did not know Tom Hanlon, the former Sinn Fein councillor who was released without charge last night after being questioned by gardai.

"I haven't met him," he said. "I don't know him."

But soon after his denial, RTE TV broadcast pictures of Mr McGuinness chatting to Mr Hanlon at an election count.

And the Belfast Telegraph found a report on a Cork internet site that said Mr McGuinness campaigned with Hanlon, (37), in April 2002. He was also photographed with Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams.

Hanlon, a painter, was also an election agent for the party last summer during the European elections. He stood for the Dail in 2002, getting just over 3% of first preference votes in Cork East.

Sinn Fein said last night that it is common for the party leadership to campaign for many candidates without remembering them.

Hanlon is from St Joseph's Terrace, Rockenham, Passage West, a village outside Cork City. He was a town councillor in Passage West but stepped down at last year's local government elections.


Tests On Bank Notes Today

Forensic officers were carrying out tests on money found in Belfast and Dublin today to see if it is linked to the largest bank robbery in British history.

By:Press Association

Almost £2.5m was seized in searches across the Irish Republic in a massive police investigation into a major IRA money laundering operation, while cash which may be linked to the Northern Bank robbery was found at a sports complex used by police in Belfast.

Further searches were planned across Ireland as part of the cross-border inquiry that has led to allegations of Sinn Fein involvement in criminality. It has also forced the resignation from several key positions of a leading adviser to Irish Premier Bertie Ahern.

As suspects were questioned about the IRA money laundering scam in Cork, Belfast detectives were called to the Newforge Country Club sports complex after the money was found.

With officers on both side of the Irish border involved in a huge operation to smash the money racket, police were cautious about the timing of the find.

A PSNI spokeswoman said: "Initial checks would suggest this incident is an effort to distract police investigating the Northern Bank robbery and also to divert attention away from events elsewhere over the last two days.

"Nonetheless, police are taking the find seriously, and the material received will be examined to see whether it will lead the investigating team back to those who committed the robbery."

The unprecedented security operation into a massive cash racket believed to be run by the Provisionals had led to a series of arrests in Dublin and Cork.

Gardai in the Irish Republic detained a total of eight people following raids and searches across the country involving more than 100 detectives.

Don Bullman, a chef from Cork, was charged with IRA membership after nearly 100,000 euro (£69,000) was allegedly discovered stuffed into a washing-up powder box in a Jeep.

Two men from Londonderry who were arrested with Bullman were released pending a report being sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Most of the other suspects, who Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy earlier linked to the Provisional IRA, were released without charge last night, although two men and a woman remained in custody, among them leading Cork businessman Ted Cunningham.

Former Sinn Fein councillor Tom Hanlon walked free from a garda station in Cork late last night after his questioning in relation to the money laundering scam had caused a political storm in which unionists called on the British and Irish governments to exclude the republican party from efforts to revive devolution.

Computers and dozens of documents were seized in a series of raids and searches on homes and properties in Derry, Dublin, Cork, Dundalk, Co Louth and Co Offaly.

In one operation, 17 sackfuls of cash were removed from the house of Mr Cunningham, 57, but police on both sides of the border were still unable to confirm if any of the £2 million haul is part of the £26.5 million stolen from the Northern Bank in Belfast just before Christmas.

A man was arrested outside Cork City later after he was reportedly seen burning British banknotes in the back garden of his home.

One of Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern`s most trusted advisers, industrial relations trouble shooter Phil Flynn, resigned from a number of key positions last night after he became embroiled in the investigation.

Mr Flynn was questioned by officers from the Criminal Assets Bureau after it emerged that he was a non-executive director of Chesterton Finance, a company at the centre of the investigation.

Even as he stood down as chairman of the national implementation body overseeing decentralisation, from the board of a health insurer and as chairman of the Bank of Scotland in Ireland, Mr Flynn insisted he had absolutely no involvement in money laundering.

But since the inquiry by more than 100 detectives began, police forces on both sides of the Irish border have refused to confirm a link between the seized cash and the December 20 Northern Bank raid.

Despite both the British and Irish Governments backing the assessment by police chiefs that the IRA carried out the record-breaking robbery, Sinn Fein and the Provisionals have continued to deny any IRA involvement.

The case took a new twist last night with the discovery at Newforge Country Club in South Belfast.

Even though police stressed that the complex does not form part of their estate, it is heavily used by the force for sporting events and social occasions.

Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy confirmed his officers were investigating IRA links to the money laundering operation.

But it was the scale and apparent sophistication of the operation which astounded justice minister Michael McDowell and the Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy.

The latter is next week due to announce sanctions against Sinn Fein because of the Provisionals` alleged involvement in the bank raid.

Mr McDowell said the garda investigation had been a major effort in overcoming the threat to Irish democracy posed by the money laundering operation.

"The Provisional movement is a colossal criminal machine laundering huge sums of money," he said.

"Their mask has now slipped. Their balaclavas have come off."

Although police chiefs said the republican movement was behind the money laundering operation, Mr Ahern insisted that Sinn Fein would not be excluded from the Northern Ireland peace process.

"We had 30 years of exclusion in Northern Ireland and all we ended up with was thousands of people killed and maimed," he said.

Asked if he felt justified in blaming the Northern Bank robbery on the IRA and claiming Sinn Fein had prior knowledge, Mr Ahern said: "I wouldn`t have said what I said if I hadn`t been given the advice I was given."

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, who is preparing to return to Ireland from Spain, called on people to reserve judgment on the latest developments until all the facts had emerged.

"I have asked for a full report from our party head office, so I can deal with this when I return," he said.

"I think people have to be very measured."

Representatives of the Ulster Unionist Assembly Party are to meet PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde next week to discuss the series of arrests linked to the Northern Bank robbery.

In a statement, Senior Ulster Unionist Sir Reg Empey said: "Events over the past 24 hours have catapulted us into a period of significant crisis.

"We now intend to meet with the Chief Constable to discuss issues related to this fast-moving situation."

He added: "How much more has to happen, and how many more discoveries of criminality have to occur, before the British and Irish prime ministers come out firmly to back the democrats?

"Both governments must ensure that gangsterism is utterly expunged from society here if democracy is to have any chance of succeeding."


IRA Suspect Had SF Links

By Chris Thornton
19 February 2005

The Cork man charged with IRA membership by police investigating paramilitary money laundering has associations with Sinn Fein, the Belfast Telegraph has learned.

Don Bullman, who appeared before Dublin's Special Criminal Court last night, has been described as a dissident republican but worked in Sinn Fein's Cork office in 1999.

He was arrested on Wednesday at Heuston Station in Dublin with €94,000 hidden in a box of Daz washing powder.

The money was discovered in a backpack on the back seat of a Northern Ireland-registered Jeep. Two Londonderry men arrested alongside with Bullman were released last night.

Chief Superintendent Phillip Kelly of the Garda special technical unit based in Dublin told the Special Criminal Court that six mobile phones were also found in the car.

Bullman, from Fernwood Crescent, Leghanamore, Wilton, Co Cork, was charged at the Special Criminal Court with IRA membership.

Bullman, a chef in his thirties, was arrested on Wednesday shortly after 3pm under Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act, the court was told.

Detective Sergeant Roy Corcoran of the special detective unit told the court Bullman was taken to Clondalkin station for questioning.

Bullman was told he would be brought before the Special Criminal Court to answer a charge of IRA membership, the court heard. Mr Corcoran told the court Bullman understood the charges.

Bullman replied "Nothing to say" when he was told of the reason for his arrest and detention, he said.

The court was told Bullman, a father of three, worked 70 hours a week in two different jobs, as a chef in a nursing home and catering in pubs and clubs across Co Cork.

Mr Kelly said he believed the money found in the vehicle was related to a major IRA money laundering operation.

Outside court, it emerged that he sold tickets to Sinn Fein functions in Cork in 1999.

A Sinn Fein spokeswoman said last night the party was not commenting on any of the people arrested in connection with the money laundering investigation.

"I'm not aware he ever worked in Cork," she said. "I'm not saying he didn't, but I never met him."


Banker Freed In 'IRA Cash' Probe

Saturday, February 19, 2005 Posted: 7:58 AM EST (1258 GMT)

Police officer removes what appears to be bags of money from a house in Farren, Ireland.

DUBLIN, Ireland (AP) -- A private banker who had more than £2.3 million ($4.4 million) hidden in his home was freed without charge Saturday as police continued searching financial records nationwide for clues into an alleged IRA money-laundering ring.

Ted Cunningham, 56, refused to comment as he left a police station in Cork, southwest Ireland, after a two-day interrogation. Earlier, police also freed without charge his domestic partner, Cathy Armstrong.

Police said they were preparing a book of evidence for state prosecutors to consider against Cunningham, a common practice in Ireland, where authorities often take weeks to mull over information before taking a decision.

Police said they were making similar deliberations against four other people arrested in connection with this week's raids on homes and businesses across Ireland and later released.

Ireland's police commander, Noel Conroy, cautioned it could be several days before authorities announce whether any of the seized money came from the £26.5 million ($50 million) robbery of Northern Bank in Belfast -- the biggest cash heist in history.

Since that December 20 robbery, money-laundering authorities across Europe have been keeping an eye out for any large transactions involving British currency, particularly any bearing the Northern Bank's own design. About two-thirds of the money stolen was in newly printed Northern Bank notes.

In Dublin leaders of Sinn Fein, the Irish Republican Army-linked party, mounted an emergency meeting Saturday to manage fallout from the robbery and other accusations that have undermined its image internationally.

Both Sinn Fein and the IRA have denied any involvement in the robbery or in money-laundering, but the Irish government and every other political party in Ireland have branded the Sinn Fein-IRA movement as criminals.

A well-placed detective in this week's raids, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said investigators feared that some of the Northern Bank cash may already have been laundered in Bulgaria and Libya -- the latter country a past source for most of the IRA's weaponry.

The detective said it would be harder to track down money in either of those countries than within the 25-nation European Union, where authorities have coordinated money-laundering controls.

So far, just one person has been charged. Don Bullman, a 30-year-old chef, was arraigned Friday on a charge of membership in the outlawed IRA after police allegedly caught him handing over 94,000 euros ($122,000) in euro notes -- hidden in a detergent box in a backpack -- to two men from Northern Ireland.

The detective said Bullman was suspected of providing a service to both the IRA and splinter IRA groups who delivered him "hot" money to launder through Cork-area cash registers. Bullman holds down several jobs as a cook in a nursing home and Cork pubs.

Police were still interrogating a Cork man in his 40s who was arrested Friday night while allegedly trying to burn a stack of British pound notes in the back yard of his home. Police said they also found rounds for an assault rifle at the location.

On Thursday night, another man walked into a Cork police station and handed over a bag containing £175,000 ($330,000) in British notes. The man said Cunningham had asked the man to hide it.

Conroy said panicked IRA members might have asked friends to store bags of cash as news of the raids spread. He appealed to anybody who recently received large amounts of British currency, "perhaps in dubious circumstances," to hand it in "before we come knocking on their door."

Police in Northern Ireland, meanwhile, were analyzing their first confirmed haul of Northern Bank notes stolen from the bank -- a find made Friday that police suspect represented an IRA effort to mock and confuse the force's efforts to track down the gang responsible.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland refused to say how much money they found. It had been buried on a golf course beside a Belfast country club popular with off-duty police officers.


Ahern Aide Flynn Linked To Titanic Quarter Plan

By Chris Thornton Political Correspondent
19 February 2005

The associate of Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, whose Dublin home and office were visited by police investigating IRA money trails, is part of a consortium that put together a £50m property deal for Belfast's old shipyard site.

Former Sinn Fein vice president Phil Flynn is a director of Harcourt Developments, the Dublin-based firm that bought the development rights for the Titanic quarter two years ago.

The 61-year-old banker's Dublin property and the Dundalk home and office of his brother, James, were searched by gardai because of Phil Flynn's ties to Ted Cunningham, the Cork money lender who had more than £2m in cash taken from his home by investigators.

Neither of the Flynn brothers has been accused of any wrongdoing. Phil Flynn said he has known Mr Cunningham for only six months.

Last night Mr Flynn resigned from key positions, including chairman of the national implementation body overseeing decentralisation, the board of health insurer VHI and as chairman of the Bank of Scotland in Ireland.

He said: "I have no involvement with money laundering, full stop - for the republican movement or for anybody else.

"The sensible thing is to step aside. This will sort itself out and when it does you'll see me back."

Mr Flynn, an ex-trade unionist, has a wide business portfolio that includes other ties to Northern Ireland. He had been chairman of the Bank of Scotland (Ireland), which has an office in Belfast, and is a director of Daily Ireland, a Belfast-based paper launched earlier this month.

Mr Flynn was a vice president of Sinn Fein in the early 1980s, but says he left the party in the middle of that decade.

He went on to become a prominent trade unionist and senior official in the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, and a consultant on industrial relations.

In 1996, the Irish government appointed him chairman of the state-owned ICC bank, which was later taken over by the Bank of Scotland.


Spotlight Turns To Slick IRA Money-Making Machine

Angelique Chrisafis
Saturday February 19, 2005
The Guardian

The Provisional IRA's finance department is a slick machine with 30 years' experience in moving money through the international banking system, as well as hiding millions of dollars in donations from Libya and the US.

They have become expert money launderers who, observers say, "clean" cash through high-turnover businesses which they control directly or indirectly.

The IRA is reputed to own a portfolio of front businesses in Belfast, Derry and the border counties of the Irish Republic, from small supermarkets to cafes, pubs and hotels. It has extensive property interests which opponents have long claimed also fund Sinn Féin.

The ceasefire watchdog, the independent monitoring commission, said last year the IRA was deriving a "substantial income" from smuggling and other crime.

Northern Ireland's organised crime taskforce said the IRA was involved in money laundering, tax and VAT fraud, and generated an income from robberies, hijackings, smuggling and counterfeiting. It is thought the group makes up to £10m a year from crime alone. One business source in Derry yesterday estimated it made half as much again from its "legitimate" business and property development.

Ed Moloney, the author of A Secret History of the IRA, said it usually bought businesses above the going rate to keep the previous owners onside. A week after the deal is closed, turnover suddenly multiplies on paper by six or seven times. "This is a way of producing legitimate funds." He said that at one stage in Derry so many businesses were controlled by the IRA it was believed it stopped its bombing campaign there because it would be blowing up its own premises.

The Derry business source said the IRA also controlled firms which it had not bought outright. It lent money to businesses and controlled slot machines in pubs in a similar way to loyalist paramilitaries.

The source said the IRA front businesses had not come under scrutiny from government agencies, police or the media because the government did not want to destabilise the peace process.

Until now, IRA funding and criminal assets have not come under the full investigative spotlight shone on other paramilitaries. In the Irish Republic, the criminal assets bureau which has targeted the Real IRA, had not, until this week, launched a major investigation into the IRA.

In Northern Ireland, the Assets Recovery Agency, which law enforcement agencies instruct to freeze the assets of criminals, has not been seen to target the IRA, nor has it publicly linked the organisation to any assets it has frozen.

Sinn Féin, the richest party on either side of the Irish border, has consistently denied the accusations and called on its critics to present proof.


Durkan: Sinn Féin Trying To 'Obscure' Mccartney Investigation

19/02/2005 - 14:47:13

SDLP leader Mark Durkan has claimed the Sinn Féin leadership had been heavily involved in attempts to obscure police investigations into the killing of Belfast man Robert McCartney and suspected money-laundering.

Mr Durkan said republicans had used their manipulative powers and their position in local communities in a bid to divert attention from the events of the last number of days.

“Even if we did not have all the flurry of the past few days, let’s remember there were fundamental questions there about Sinn Féin, their relationship with the IRA, about exactly what the IRA have been up to and Sinn Féin’s attitude to it,” Mr Durkan said.

“This issue of criminality is something that we have been warning about over the past number of years, that it was going to be ignored at our peril.”

Mr Durkan told RTE radio republicans had no right to talk about an Ireland of equals when they attempted to obscure the police investigations into Mr McCartney’s murder.

“This was a vicious, vicious murder and Sinn Féin and the IRA’s first instinct was to protect their own.”

Mr Durkan added there was no room in a modern democratic Ireland for people who believed they were above the law.


Analysis: Election Glory Is Fading Amidst Stealing And Murder

By Chris Thornton
19 February 2005

Sinn Fein's year of triumph went from bad to worse this week.

The first two months of the party's centenary year celebrations have been overshadowed by robbery and murder.

And just when it seemed the crisis was settling down into a familiar pattern of claim and denial that voters could be counted on to ignore, the Garda seizure of millions of pounds in cash added more weight to the allegation that Sinn Fein can't have a party without inviting the IRA.

In recent weeks, as pressure built over the Northern Bank robbery and the murder of Short Strand man Robert McCartney, Sinn Fein officials have returned to the line that their party has no connection with the IRA.

That case was always tenuous. But as a Garda money-laundering investigation began turning up suspects with links to the party, Sinn Fein's damage control operation seemed damaged itself.

Twenty days away from their first electoral test in the aftermath of 'Northern Bank', Sinn Fein is facing questions over one of the fundamentals of the peace process - whether the party has become the dominant partner in the republican movement, or remains in thrall to the Provos.

As Joe Reilly heads for the Meath by-election - probably followed by the general election in the North in less than three months - these are testing times for Shinners.

First the party leadership was accused of having advance knowledge of the Northern Bank job, then of sanctioning it.

The Dail chamber, which so recently was evidence of the party's remarkable rise in the South, has become a theatre of attack and ridicule for the Republic's other parties. When Sinn Fein attempts to raise issues, the IRA gives their opponents a ready response.

Witness a recent foray into domestic violence - a bit rich, said the Progressive Democrats, from a party that refused to concede the murder of Jean McConville was a crime.

Sinn Fein's chief trouble has come from Bertie Ahern, because he represents the chief challenge to their credibility.

Previously the Taoiseach, an instinctive seeker of the middle ground, saw the interests of the peace process and tolerance of IRA activity as the same thing. He recently admitted that his government looked the other way, after a number of robberies they believed the IRA carried out last year.

But now, believing he was misled in negotiations last year and burned by being prepared to release the killers of Garda Jerry McCabe, Mr Ahern's patience looks to have run out.

The scale of the Garda operation over several weeks may be a reflection of his repositioning.

Even if it reflects on his own position - a close associate of Mr Ahern's had his office visited by officers investigating the money-laundering operation - the Taoiseach seems determined to keep the pressure on.

The murder of Mr McCartney has been even more significant.

While many nationalists may not be disturbed by the Northern Bank robbery - and others are convinced it was a black propaganda operation - the McCartney killing has turned republican grassroots directly to the question of the IRA's role.

Everyone connected with the killing accepts that the IRA as an organisation did not set out to kill Mr McCartney.

But senior IRA men are believed to have killed him in a bar fight and IRA members are also suspected to have actively frustrated the investigation by intimidation and destroying evidence.

This has led to an unprecedented clamour from republicans.

A former hunger striker has been among critics appearing on the letters page of the Irish News.

"Ten men didn't starve to death for bully boy tactics," another writer, signed Sinn Fein Voter No More said yesterday.

Sinn Fein is already working hard to repair the damage, and it remains difficult to see them being derailed in the upcoming general election. But it's looking like a very long year.


Viewpoint: No Hiding Place For Sinn Fein

Key issue: Decision time for nationalists

19 February 2005

With every day that passes, the edifice so carefully nurtured by Sinn Fein over many years is crumbling fast. Events from Colombia to Cork, and from Magennis' Bar to the Northern Bank render the party's links with the IRA more unsustainable than ever.

In unconvincing attempts to defend itself, Sinn Fein refers to its mandate, pointing out that it enjoys the support of tens of thousands of people. Its logic appears to be that this electoral base entitles the IRA to indulge in nefarious activities with impunity.

This is false logic. If one wants to play the game of mandates, then there is no need to look further than 1998, when the vast majority of people of Ireland, north and south, declared their opposition to crime, violence and terrorism.

There may never have been a plebiscite on the issue, but the Good Friday Agreement surely came close to it. What is beyond doubt is that if the IRA's activities were put to the test in a referendum today, they would be rejected by a staggering majority.

The civil rights marchers of almost 40 years ago had an honourable cause but they did not campaign for a civil right to murder, intimidate, rob banks and terrorise people.

All this poses a huge challenge for the nationalist community. In the weeks leading up to the May elections voters are going to be asked where they stand, and it is a question that requires a considered response.

A battle for hearts and minds is already under way and for the sake of democracy, it is vital that the SDLP becomes more strident. It must provide an attractive alternative for those who believe in peaceful co-existence rather than extortion and violence.

The stark choice is between a party that laid the foundations of peace and reconciliation and a republican movement that has sunk into a moral morass of corruption and deceit.

Now that the IRA's activities have been exposed for all to see, we should be at a turning point for politics in Ireland. If the forthcoming election does not result in a stepping away from Sinn Fein, then the outlook for political progress will be bleak indeed.


Rabbitte: No Evidence Of Split In Republicanism

19/02/2005 - 14:44:03

Labour party leader Pat Rabbitte has claimed there was no indication that the alleged IRA money-laundering ring currently being investigated on both sides of the border and murder of Belfast man Robert McCartney signified a split in republicanism.

“I believe it is a coherent, cohesive, unified single movement,” Mr Rabbitte said.

He said voters all across the island would now be forced to reassess their opinions and motives ahead of by-elections in the Republic and the British general election.

“The fact that we did bite our lips and that we did offer this encouragement over more than a decade now has had a corrosive effect on our own democracy. There’s absolutely no doubt about that,” he said.

“Even the most gullible citizen who voted as a signal of encouragement to the peace process development that I talked about must now be asking themselves the most profound questions.”

Mr Rabbitte said Sinn Féin’s political strategy remained unknown.

He said questions had to be asked on all sides as to how republicans intended to move forward.

“Are they planning to contest the democratic space on an equal basis as the rest of us or do they have an ideology that means an overthrow of this state and an overthrow of the northern state that will lead to a Sinn Féin government on both parts of the state?” he asked on RTE radio.


Comment: This Crisis Threatens To Halt The Advance Of Sinn Féin

A pub killing means more to republican voters than laundered swag

Robin Livingstone
Saturday February 19, 2005
The Guardian

The people of the Short Strand refuse to be pushed around. If they didn't, the tiny Catholic enclave on the edge of loyalist east Belfast would have disappeared years ago. Regular and determined paramilitary assaults on the district have been repelled, and while the Short Strand has suffered tremendously, more obvious than its pain is the tremendous pride that comes from the very fact that it continues to survive.

So when £26m was stolen in a bank raid last December, the republicans who live here were perfectly willing to reject the claims of British spooks that the IRA was responsible - particularly since not a scintilla of evidence had been produced. And if truth be told, as the facts about the money seizure and arrests in Cork and Dublin emerge, core republican voters like these are still unlikely to be much bothered. In the weeks before the robbery the Northern was one of a number of banks that came in for a lot of punishing publicity amid a consumer magazine's claims that a banking cartel was screwing its customers. If it turns out that the IRA was responsible, there will be no tears for the bankers.

But in the Short Strand and right across the island, tears are being shed for Robert McCartney, a 33-year-old father of two and a well-respected member of this small, close-knit community. McCartney didn't die defending his home, or shot in his bed by the UDA. He was stabbed during a fracas outside Magennis's Whiskey Cafe, a half-mile from his home, on Sunday, January 30. But just as the stories of dead residents and IRA volunteers have made the Short Strand a republican heartland, so the story of Robert McCartney has the power to damage Sinn Féin - much more than the bank raid could, and not only in the tidy redbrick streets of east Belfast, but in the teeming estates of Dublin and Derry and in the townlands of Armagh and Tyrone.

As Belfast digested the news of the stabbing, it seemed like just the latest in a sorry litany of booze-fuelled weekend assaults and deaths. But soon Belfast was buzzing with rumours that a well known republican was the killer and that the IRA had used its finely honed anti-forensics skills to ensure that the culprit couldn't be connected to the killing. Not only that, but the IRA was intimidating witnesses who might otherwise have made statements to the police. And because the rumours further discomfited a republican movement already under pressure, another opportunity for Sinn Féin-bashing was too good to turn down for all concerned. So for Dublin and London, for the Irish and British media, the McCartney killing became the right hook to the left jab of the Northern Bank robbery.

There is no hard evidence to support the claims that a republican killed McCartney, or indeed that the IRA assisted the killer and threatened witnesses. But the belief in Short Strand is that while the killing of Robert McCartney was in all likelihood the result of a beery brawl, a republican, even a republican who fought the Brits for many years, should have to pay for stabbing somebody to death in a street fight.

Perhaps because they were distracted by the political onslaught against them following the collapse of the peace process, perhaps because of hubris or complacency, Sinn Féin handled it horribly. They lost the Sinn Féin-voting McCartney family early on and the heartrending appeals of the dead man's sisters in the media wounded them badly. There's a running joke among the party faithful that there's a department in the Northern Ireland Office tasked with sending letters to Irish newspapers signed "ex-Sinn Féin voter", and given the curious fact that such letters become more numerous as Sinn Féin's popularity increases, it's a joke, as they say here, with a jag. But this was a bona fide Sinn Féin family laying into republicans not for political gain, but out of grief and anguish. Tell the police what you know, they urged listeners and readers; leave them alone if they do, they urged republicans.

Sinn Féin's terse response that anyone who knew anything should make a statement to their solicitor was in keeping with their opposition to the Police Service of Northern Ireland, but it sounded callous against the keening of the McCartney sisters, and the grumblings of discontent in Short Strand could be heard in Cork. Hence Wednesday's unexpected IRA statement, which was warmly welcomed by the family. "Anyone who can help the family should do so," the statement read.

Thin gruel indeed, you might think. But in the carefully considered language of P O'Neill, that line contained much more than nine words. Given that the family had stated that it was four-square behind the police in its attempts to catch the killer, any "help" given to them would be passed on to the PSNI. That's a reality that the IRA acknowledged when it issued its statement.

Whether any witnesses will take advantage of this effective amnesty from the IRA to come forward only time will tell. And difficulties still remain. If a republican is arrested and charged on the basis of information received, the ferocious loyalty among republicans means that he will still receive support among his active comrades, especially if he has been in prison or was a doughty fighter. It's a long way between an interview room and a life sentence.

The ultimate arbiters in all this will be the voters. Were elections to be held next week, there's no doubt that the outlook would be bleak for Sinn Féin. Even before this week's arrests and recovery of money it had been badly battered. But with 10 weeks until the local and Westminster elections and probably more than a year until the Dáil elections, republicans remain hopeful.

If it does turn out that the IRA has been caught red-handed, Gerry Adams, the Sinn Féin president, needs to convince both core and potential voters that his claim the IRA told him they didn't do it and that he believed them was not a cynical charade. The only way he can do that is to say he was lied to. In the unlikely event that he does this, republicans might find the wriggle room that has been denied to them in recent weeks. And it might put some clear blue water between Sinn Féin and the IRA.

Thanks to the robbery, Sinn Féin may well simply hold on to its existing vote come election time rather than continue its steady expansion. The party's local machine continues to put in the work in a way that its rivals can only marvel at. Electoral meltdown of the kind experienced by the SDLP in recent years is unlikely.

The McCartney affair is potentially more dangerous for Sinn Féin. The best outcome would be a quick and convincing conviction. But if the killer stays free, even without the aid of the IRA, that fact will come to be the fault of republicans for what they did or didn't do in the days after the killing. The ghosts of the disappeared and the grim search for their bodies have haunted the IRA for years. How ironic it would be if the last of the disappeared remained alive, was one of their own, and did them most damage.

Robin Livingstone is editor of Andersonstown News in Belfast.


Adams In New IRA Row

By Brendan McDaid and Andrea Clements
19 February 2005

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams was at the centre of a new political row today over his plans to speak at an IRA memorial in Strabane tomorrow.

A spokesman for Sinn Fein in Strabane today confirmed Mr Adams is still planning to unveil a monument to IRA volunteers Charles Breslin, and brothers David and Michael Devine - despite the major crisis facing his party following accusations of IRA involvement in multi-million pound bank raids and money laundering operations.

The three Strabane paramilitaries to be honoured tomorrow were gunned down by undercover British Forces during an ambush in the town 20 years ago this weekend.

The Sinn Fein leader delivered the original lecture at the graveside of the three men.

Ian Paisley Jnr of the DUP said about Mr Adams' planned trip to Strabane: "It further entraps him into the activities of an organisation immersed in criminalisation and unrepentant of terrorism.

"He was given a choice of leading Sinn Fein down a democratic path but he has decided crime pays."

Meanwhile, detectives were today examining a sum of money found at the PSNI's Newforge Lane Country Club in south Belfast to see if it is part of the £26m haul from the Northern Bank raid just before Christmas.

It is thought to be Northern Bank notes, but although police have not confirmed this or said if serial numbers match stolen notes, they have hinted that the find may be a stunt.

Mr Paisley Jnr said it was a "red herring operation" by the IRA.

Mr Adams is due to fly back from the Basque capital of Bilboa today to attend an emergency party executive meeting in Dublin.


Shake-Up Urged For Polling Office

Official admits receiving cash and alcohol gifts

19 February 2005

Sinn Fein today demanded increased transparency at the Electoral Office in the aftermath of the conviction of a former election official.

Alastair Patterson, who was also chief executive of the Ulster Unionist Party, was given a 15-month jail term, suspended for two years, after admitting receiving cash and alcohol in return for electoral count contracts.

Patterson (59), a former Deputy Returning Officer, accepted a bottle of vodka and £30 in cash in relation to a contract for collecting ballot boxes and delivering screens to polling stations.

Until his appointment at senior UUP official, he was best known for declaring IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands the new MP for Fermanagh/South Tyrone in April, 1981.

More than 20 years later he was at the centre of the bitter UUP squabble which eventually resulted in Jeffrey Donaldson quitting to join the DUP.

As deputy returning officer for Fermanagh, Mid-Ulster and South Tyrone, he also sounded warnings over "widespread abuse" of postal voting and urged a change in the law.

In court this week, Patterson admitted accepting the 'sweeteners' from Omagh contractor Edmund Stanley Wiltshire (61) - whose four-month jail term was also suspended for two years - in relation to the June 1987 General Election.

Dungannon Crown Court heard that by the time of the Assembly election in June, 1998, Patterson was recieving £1,000 in cash.

Patterson, who admitted charges including theft, forgery and false acounting between May 1996 and December 1998, was not answering the phone at his Parkanaur Road home in Castlecaulfield yesterday.

Judge McFarland, who described Wiltshire's offers as "sweeteners" said Patterson had acted out of "just pure greed" and however their scheme had started, had exploited his position as office manager.

Sinn Fein argued that without greater changes, the Electoral Commission should be given greater powers to oversee the Electoral Office.

Assembly member Francie Molloy said the problem of a lack of transparency in the Electoral Office remained.

"It is a closed shop and power rests in the deputy returning officer. We have been calling for a greater opening up in relation to the employment of staff and the allocation of contracts.

"I don't think that has been achieved. We still have a very dictatorial position from (Electoral Officer) Denis Stanley."

Mr Stanley, who was not in post at the time of the offences, said he had no comment to make.

The case also has continuing repercussions for the Ulster Unionist Party. MP David Burnside said he hoped it would be discussed by party officers at their next meeting.

"People have to accept their responsibilities in the positions they are appointed to. This is an internal matter," he said.

Party chairman James Cooper was not immediately available for comment.


Rugby Star At Centre Of Club Assault Probe

By Brian Hutton

19 February 2005

Ulster rugby star Neil Best is at the centre of a police probe after being arrested over an alleged assault outside a nightclub, it can be revealed today.

The 16-stone flanker has faced a PSNI investigation after a man claimed to have been assaulted in Belfast last Saturday night.

The IRFU last night said that it has spoken to the full-time professional and is considering what action to take over the alleged incident.

A police spokesperson said that they arrested a man following an alleged assault outside Shine nightclub on University Street, shortly before 11pm on Saturday night.

It is understood the suspect was brought to Musgrave Street police station where he was arrested and questioned before being released pending further inquiries.

One man has made a complaint to police regarding the alleged assault.

In a statement to the Belfast Telegraph, the IRFU said it was "aware of a situation that involved the behaviour of one of its squad members".

Michael Reid, chief executive of the Ulster branch, said: "This is a most regrettable incident and will be dealt within the branch."

Mr Reid said he had "spoken to the player involved".

Mr Reid declined to make any further comment.

Tipped as a future star on the international rugby stage, Best won his 50th Ulster cap against Llanelli in November.

Provincial players like Best, a 25-year-old who plays with Belfast Harlequins, earn up to £50,000 a year, including salary, match fees and win bonuses.

Best played for Ulster last night. He said he had no comment to make.

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