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February 20, 2005

02/20/05 – Alleged IRA’s Dirty Cash Funds Power Grab

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Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Feb 2005

SM 02/19/05 IRA's Dirty Cash Funds Power Grab by Jim Cusack
SB 02/20/05 SF Sanctioned Laundering – Government
SF 02/20/05 CAB Targets IRA Cigarette Smuggling Operation
GU 02/20/05 Trail Of Burnt Notes Leads To IRA
AP 02/19/05 Banker In Laundering Ring Freed Without Charge
TO 02/20/05 Adams’s Expenses Cut Over Bank Heist
GU 02/20/05 Terror Alert In Hunt For IRA Cash
TO 02/20/05 Ard Fheis RTE Broadcast: Bad Reception
SB 02/20/05 Opin: Peace Process Still Needs Sinn Fein Leaders
NW 02/20/05 Opin: Northern Ireland: Shame For Sinn Fein
GU 02/20/05 Opin: Sinn Fein Has To Renounce Crime
TO 02/20/05 McCartney’s Killers Walk Streets As Provos Tighten Grip
TO 02/20/05 Former Long Kesh Inmates To Sue Over CR Gas Effects
GU 02/20/05 Football Set To Build Bridges In Londonderry

RT 02/19/05 PSNI Recovers Northern Bank Notes-V(9)

PSNI Recovers Northern Bank Notes - Paschal Sheehy, Southern Editor, reports as money is discovered at a leisure-complex building on the outskirts of Belfast

Will Goodbody reports on the resignation of Phil Flynn from the Irish Division of the Bank of Scotland

Vivienne Traynor reports on a meeting of the Sinn Féin leadership held in Dublin today

Michael Fisher reports on the ongoing PSNI investigations in Belfast

Tommie Gorman, Northern Editor, looks at the recent revelations and the implications for the Northern Ireland peace process

Gardaí release Cork businessman - Paschal Sheehy, Southern Editor, reports as the garda investigation into subversive money laundering continues

Paschal Sheehy discusses the continuing forensic tests on the money recovered in Cork

Vivienne Traynor reports on a meeting of Sinn Féin leadership held today in Dublin

Tommie Gorman, Northern Editor, reports on comments made by Sinn Féin President, Gerry Adams


IRA's Dirty Cash Funds Power Grab

Jim Cusack

NOEL Conroy does not give press conferences. So the decision of the Commissioner of the Garda to go before Ireland’s television cameras on Friday was an indication of the magnitude of the operation his force is undertaking.

Members of the Garda Special Branch, Fraud and Criminal Assets Bureau had just launched its biggest ever set of raids on the offices of accountants, solicitors and finance companies across the country, looking for documents linked to offshore accounts, property deals, business ownerships and money transactions estimated to run into hundreds of millions of euros.

Ostensibly linked to the search for the £26.5m stolen recently in Belfast, in reality the raids were about something more. There is said to be a massive amount of financial activity, ranging from pubs to trading corporations, situated in countries outside the EU in order to avoid the scrutiny of EU financial regulations. And they all have one thing in common: they are linked to the IRA.

The amounts involved were evidently for a purpose far beyond personal enrichment. There is now a belief that the finance operation uncovered is intended to fund a massive campaign to subvert politics in the Republic of Ireland, undermining its political parties and institutions. Gardai now talk in apocalyptic terms. The scheme is, they say, the IRA’s banking system to be used to overthrow the government of Ireland.

A key part of the grandiose plan was the subverting of Sinn Fein’s political opposition. The IRA is in the process of building a black propaganda campaign to attack members of the Irish parliament and other elected representatives. Across the country, the IRA has been spying on members of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Labour and the Progressive Democrats. Units of IRA volunteers, under the guise of Sinn Fein "activists", have been building up dossiers on members of opposing political parties.

This information is to be used to destroy the careers of politicians and public figures at key points in the run-up to the next Irish general election, in which Sinn Fein hopes to establish itself as a major presence in the Dail.

Gardai and Irish army intelligence believe the leadership of the Provisionals has decided it has completed its strategic project in Northern Ireland, having overthrown the SDLP to become the biggest nationalist party, and has now turned its attention to its grand plan of taking power in the Republic. Within republican circles this project is referred to as the "re-conquest of the south".

This project requires hundreds of millions of euros to pay for the small army of activists of all shades, ranging from the local "community" workers to high-flying financiers handling the organisation’s money

The truth has finally dawned on Bertie Ahern’s government that, rather than be content with a political agreement that would have seen Sinn Fein in a Stormont Executive in the north, the Provisionals were intent on an altogether bigger prize.

However, their ambition may have been their undoing. It is now widely accepted that the robbery of the £26.5m was a miscalculation on their part.

The IRA may have a highly sophisticated money laundering operation, but the strain placed on this system by the injection of £26.5m was too much.

Over the past weeks, signs of the strain began to emerge as two separate Garda intelligence-gathering operations came together when members of the Special Branch following a dissident republican in County Cork and anti-money laundering detectives found they were watching the same people.

The Special Branch detectives were on routine surveillance of a Cork member of the Real IRA who appeared to have an unusually close relationship with a man who was both a senior IRA figure and a member of Sinn Fein. Interest in this relationship increased when the Special Branch men found that in the past month the two had held meetings with a financier at the centre of a separate investigation into money laundering.

Some weeks ago it became clear that what the two sections of the Garda were witnessing was the movement of cash from the north to Cork and the laundering of that money on a very large scale.

The crackdown swung into action last Wednesday with the first of a series of raids that went on over the following 48 hours, involving eight arrests and the seizure of thousands of files and computer hard drives relating to financial dealings here and abroad.

Of key interest are documents relating to the setting up of trading companies and property deals outside the EU in Bulgaria, Turkey and Libya.

The operations that took place last week are merely the start of an investigation which gardai say will run for years. As Commissioner Conroy confirmed at his press conference, the operation is aimed at the "subversive" activities of the Provisional IRA.

Garda sources have confirmed the £2.3m and other money seized in Cork last week is from the Northern Bank raid. Belfast police confirmed last night the discovery of a further £50,000 in the city’s Newforge Country Club. It is believed most of the other cash is being laundered by other people on both sides of the border.

The laundering has been a complex issue involving the transaction of the sterling notes for other "clean" sterling, its conversion into euros and its subsequent transfer out of Ireland.

That it is proving difficult was illustrated by the fact that, following the raids in Cork, one man gave himself up at Anglesea Garda Station in Cork city and handed over £175,000 in cash which he said he had been asked to keep by one of the figures at the centre of the investigation. Then, on Friday afternoon, another man was arrested while trying to burn thousands of Northern Bank notes in his back garden in Passage West.

The Garda operation into the IRA’s money laundering is now the biggest ever undertaken by the force. More than 100 detectives are expected to be engaged almost permanently over the next few years in tracking down the IRA’s illegal fundraising operation. They are already understood to have identified a large number of businesses, licensed premises and hotels that have been acquired on behalf of the IRA.

Gardai believe that the IRA has turned itself into a criminal organisation comparable to the Mafia in the US. It has, they say, become a threat to the institutions of democracy.

• Jim Cusack is security correspondent of the Sunday Independent in Ireland


‘SF Sanctioned Laundering’ – Government

20 February 2005 By Pat Leahy

Government sources said the leadership of the republican movement, including the leaders of Sinn Féin, knew and approved of the money-laundering scheme exposed by gardai last week.

The government believes that the IRA and Sinn Féin's “unitary command structure'‘ is the authority under which millions of pounds in banknotes - believed to be fromthe Northern Bank raid - were sent for laundering in the Republic.

The surprise expressed by the Sinn Féin leadership about the spate of arrests was described by government sources as “disingenuous'‘.

“They are a unitary organisation with a unitary command structure,” said a senior government source. “That is the view of the government.”

Previously, the Taoiseach had described the IRA and Sinn Féin as “two sides of the same coin'‘.

There is an increasing willingness by the government to voice in public a view which it has privately held for some time.

Last Friday, justice minister Michael McDowell said: “There was a time when I had to be more circumspect.”

However, the government does not believe that there is any imminent danger of a split in the republican movement as a result of the growing pressure to disband the IRA.

Senior sources said this weekend that their information, both “public and private'‘, was that the leadership remained firmly in control.

This view echoed comments by McDowell last Friday.

“It's not a question of soft men going to hard men and trying to persuade them to do something,” he said. “That is a complete fabrication.”

Government sources also predict that the coming months will see continued garda activity against Provisional money-laundering activity, with more arrests and seizures of cash.

It is believed that the Garda and the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB)may have been encouraged at a political level to pursue such activity since Christmas.

The concern about republican funding is partly a result of Sinn Féin's success in last year's local elections. There is a widespread belief among all parties in the Republic that Sinn Féin's well-funded election campaigns are related to the proceeds of IRA criminality.

The government believes that cash from smuggling and other enterprises controlled by the IRA is being used for “political and electoral purposes'‘, one senior source said this weekend.

Politically, a number of government sources reiterated that the “ball is in the IRA's court'‘, regarding disarmament, the ending of criminality and ultimate disbandment.

There is no doubt that Sinn Féin's position with the Irish government has been dramatically weakened by the events of recent months, and the party is clearly in defensive mode.

However, the government was keen to stress that contacts - public and private - would continue with the republican movement, although there was no expectation of any real progress until after the British general election, expected in May, and the marching season.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has repeatedly said that he does not believe in excluding Sinn Féin, although he pointed out that inclusion came at a price.

“The channels will continue to remain open, there'll continue to be meetings and talks,” said a government source.

“But it's hard to see any chance of a power-sharing deal now.”


CAB Targets IRA Money - IRA Cigarette Smuggling Operation Linked

20 February 2005 By Barry O'Kelly and Pat Leahy

An IRA cigarette smuggling operation linked to the multi-million euro money-laundering scheme uncovered last week is to be probed by the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB), The Sunday Business Post has learned.

The Co Louth-based head of the IRA's finance department and a well-known IRA army council member based on the border are already under investigation.

Files relating to the former's fundraising operations have been uncovered.

The Sunday Business Post understands that CAB will use new laws passed last week - the Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Act 2005 - to investigate a number of cross-border cigarette smuggling networks, which came to light during the money-laundering inquiry.

Gardai will also use the legislation to examine the proceeds of a number of land deals, oil laundering and taxi companies.

One of the ultimate targets of the inquiries will be the well-known IRA man who is claimed to be running one of the biggest smuggling businesses on the border.

Detectives said members of the Provisional movement were involved in the smuggling of container loads of cigarettes, typically worth more than €1 million each, through Dublin Port.

Sources said an investigation into the cigarette smuggling was originally the primary focus of the probe into the money-laundering scheme.

Gardai said at least some of the cash stolen during the €37.8 million Northern Bank raid in December was included in the cash seized last week.

However, this has yet to be proven.

The discovery of the money-laundering operation has put further pressure on Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams, who yesterday held crisis talks with senior party figures in Dublin.

Meanwhile, the 57-year-old Cork-based moneylender Ted Cunningham, who was arrested by the investigation team last Thursday, was released without charge yesterday.

Cunningham is believed to have been the subject of a complaint to the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation and CAB last May by private investigator, Billy Flynn, who was acting on behalf of a Co Tipperary farmer.

The CAB probe into Cunningham and his firm, Chesterton Finance, was already under way at the time.

Sources described the money-laundering operation as a complex scheme in which some of the people inside and outside the company were unaware of each other's existence.

The investigation is believed to have looked at the activities of dissident republicans, mainstream republicans, border criminals and property deals involving a Bulgarian arms dealer.

Separately, government sources have claimed that the leadership of the republican movement, including the leaders of Sinn Féin, knew and approved of the money-laundering scheme exposed by gardai last week.

The sources maintained that the IRA and Sinn Féin's “unitary command structure'‘ was the authority under which millions of pounds in banknotes - believed to be from the Northern Bank raid - were sent for laundering in the Republic.

The surprise expressed by the Sinn Féin leadership about the spate of arrests was described by government sources as “disingenuous'‘.

“They are a unitary organisation with a unitary command structure.

“That is the view of the government,” said a senior government source.


Trail Of Burnt Notes Leads To IRA

The discovery of £2.6m at a house near Cork has exposed a massive cross-border money-laundering scam.

Henry McDonald
Sunday February 20, 2005
The Observer

In the affluent middle-class suburb of Passage West four miles from Cork city centre, a bonfire on a windy winter afternoon would not normally attract the attention of a vigilant neighbour - let alone detectives brandishing sub-machine guns.

A former fishing village overlooking Cork harbour, Passage West seems a million miles away from the Troubles in Belfast. But in a street of well-kept bungalows last Friday someone was burning something other than leaves, twigs and garden waste.

On Friday afternoon burning bank notes were carried out of the garden by the wind.

Money is not supposed to fall from the sky - except that is in the topsy-turvy world of the Irish peace process.

The charred and blackened bank notes were not part of some artistic stunt to celebrate Cork's status as European City of Culture, but a desperate attempt to dispose of any evidence from the £26.5 million raid on the Northern Bank in central Belfast, believed to have been masterminded by the Provisional IRA before Christmas.

Catching one of the notes, an alert neighbour took it to the Anglesea Garda station at teatime. When police with Uzis stormed into the suburban garden they found a man in his mid-forties tossing more notes from the Northern Bank raid onto a little bonfire. Detectives searching the house discovered 30 .76 mm bullets, ammunition for an AK47, the favoured weapon of the Provisional IRA.

The arrest of Bonfire Man was a lucky break but others were being pulled in as part of a massive operation on both sides of the border aimed not only at finding those behind the Northern Bank raid, but at smashing the Provisional IRA's entire financing system. Cork chef Don Bullman, would be arrested in a car outside a Dublin train station with £54,000 hidden inside a box of washing powder, and charged on Friday night with IRA membership. Although described in court as a dissident, it emerged that in 1999 Bullman had worked for Sinn Fein in Cork selling raffle tickets to raise funds.

As the raids continued more money turned up: £2.6m in a bungalow in Cork, which security sources in the Republic this weekend confirmed was linked to the loot from the Northern Bank.

'The burning of the bank notes was a significant breakthrough because they belonged to the Northern Bank,' one PSNI officer observing the Garda operation said yesterday.

But if the events of the last few days seem like an Ealing Comedy, few doubt the serious threat they pose for the peace process. For among those arrested - and later released - was former Sinn Fein councillor Tom Hanlon, who has shared public platforms with both Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams. While McGuinness initially denied ever meeting Hanlon, footage of them together forced him to admit he had canvassed with Hanlon in Cork.

The investigation that began with the Northern Bank robbery has morphed into something else, a cross-border inquiry into what ministers are calling a 'vast criminal conspiracy': the mechanisms with which the IRA funds itself, and, by implication, Sinn Fein.

A bank raid that appeared to be a major coup for the IRA and a severe embarrassment for the PSNI, is rapidly turning into a damaging crisis for Sinn Fein.

The genesis of the raid, it now seems clear, was a combination of frustration, greed and hubris. Tempted by what the republican movement could do with £26.5m, and prompted by disgruntled IRA members arguing for a 'bloodless spectacular' against the British State, the Provisionals' leadership sanctioned the audacious raid.

Using detailed inside information the IRA's top units from Belfast and South Armagh held the families of two bank officials hostage on the weekend of December 21, ordered the men to turn up at the Northern's HQ, facing Belfast's City Hall, and offload millions of pounds in cash from the bank's vaults to a white van waiting in a lanenext to the building.

When the money was finally taken from central Belfast, driven into the republican west of the city and then transported to another van that drove south towards the border, the IRA unit involved had carried out the biggest cash robbery in European history.

But it had not gone as slickly for the robbers as it originally appeared. The first setback was the assertion last month by Hugh Orde, PSNI's chief constable, that he believed the Provisionals were behind the heist, a bald statement that threw the Northern Ireland Peace Process into turmoil.

Unionists said it proved that Sinn Fein was not fit for government, that no democrat could sit down in Cabinet with a party whose military wing was engaged in criminality.

And now that some of that stolen money has turned up in the Irish Republic, political parties that once urged unionists to share power with Sinn Fein are saying the same thing.

It was a view most clearly articulated by Michael McDowell, the Republic's straight-talking Justice Minister: 'The Provisional movement is a colossal criminal machine laundering huge sums of money. Their mask has now slipped. Their balaclavas have come off,' he said.

According to the picture that has been built up by Irish detectives, the IRA is operating an enormous system for recycling money, much of it stolen or raised through other illicit means, via a network of offshore accounts, overseas banks and foreign investments.

'The Provos have the capacity to recycle millions. They own pubs, clubs, businesses, betting shops, hotels, and properties. Anyone who thinks they couldn't get rid of the money taken from the Northern Bank is naive,' one senior Garda officer said this weekend.

The Republic's authorities are now understood to be focusing on two countries outside the EU where much of the cash is being directed - Bulgaria and Libya.

Neither nation has international treaties with Ireland relating to the proceeds of crime.

'We are talking about holding companies and in Bulgaria's case the purchase of vast amounts of property. The money we think that's out there is not tens of millions but hundreds of millions,' the garda officer added.

And it is an irony that since the 1994 ceasefire the IRA has become a vastly richer, financially more sophisticated organisation.

What has become embarassingly evident is that that wealth has been used to fund the ambitions of its political wing not merely to eclipse (which it has done) its moderate nationalist rivals the SDLP in Northern Ireland, but also to achieve state power in the Irish Republic. Traditional methods of fundraising such as bank robberies still take place - in 2004 the Provisionals stole millions of pounds worth of electronic and white goods from a superstore outside Belfast - but they have also developed links to the world of international finance.

Sinn Fein's critics allege that the party is now the richest political force on these islands.

As he flew into the political storm in Dublin yesterday after a brief book tour in Spain last week, Gerry Adams, Sinn Fein's president, urged people not to make any kneejerk reactions. 'I don't want to be tainted with criminality. I don't want anybody near me who is involved in criminality. I will face up to these issues if and when they emerge,' Adams insisted as he accused other Irish parties of playing politics with the peace process. 'I have read up on all the media and two things strike me - there is trial by media and secondly some of our opponents can hardly disguise their delight at this turn of events.

'What's happening is disgraceful and an attempt to destroy Sinn Fein and it won't work,' Adams said. 'We will weather this storm.'

In perhaps the strangest development, an anonymous call to the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman on Friday night said that money from the Northern Bank had turned up at a police social club in south Belfast.

The PSNI confirmed that the cash included Northern Bank notes and was found in several locations around the premises. The undisclosed sum was found at the Newforge Country Club.

PSNI detectives claimed it was left there to distract from the investigation north and south of the border.

But as the IRA's fundraising activity begins to unravel in the Irish Republic the danger of the ceasefire being breached, albeit on a 'no claim, no blame' basis, grows by the day.


Banker At Centre Of Alleged IRA Money-Laundering Ring Freed Without Charge

February 19, 2005 - 16:39

DUBLIN, Ireland (AP) - A private banker who had currency worth more than $5.4 million Cdn hidden in his home was freed without charge Saturday as police kept searching for possible links to an alleged IRA money-laundering ring and a Northern Ireland bank heist worth more than $60 million Cdn.

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 making a decision.

Police said they were making similar deliberations in the cases of four other people released without charge. All were arrested in countrywide raids against suspected IRA money-laundering operations Wednesday and Thursday, when cash worth nearly $6 million was seized in four locations, mostly in Cunningham's home.

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

Since that Dec. 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.

Leaders of Sinn Fein, the Irish Republican Army-linked party, mounted an emergency meeting Saturday in Dublin 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.

"I think that what is happening is quite disgraceful," Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said. "To listen to some of our political opponents, you would think that Sinn Fein as a party, that those who vote for our party, are criminals. And we're not."

A well-placed detective in this week's raids, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said investigators feared 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.

Authorities said it would be difficult to track down money in those countries.

So far, just one person has been charged. Don Bullman, 30, a chef, was arraigned Friday on a charge of membership in the outlawed IRA after police allegedly caught him handing cash worth more than $123,000 - 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 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 British pounds worth more than $400,000. The man said Cunningham asked him to hide it.


Adams’s Expenses Cut Over Bank Heist

Liam Clarke

THE government is to move this week to cut off Sinn Fein’s Westminster expenses for a year to punish the party for the role played by its leadership in sanctioning the UK’s biggest bank robbery.

The sanctions against the republican MPs, including Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, follow last week’s series of moves by Irish police to smash an IRA money laundering operation linked to front companies in Bulgaria and Libya.

Sinn Fein, the political wing of the IRA, has seen its reputation severely damaged since the £26.5m raid on the Northern Bank in Belfast in December.

It has already been denied expenses from the suspended Northern Ireland assembly because of an IRA kidnapping last year. This penalty will now be extended.

The initiative on Commons expenses is due to be announced on Tuesday. Under parliamentary procedures it will require a vote of the whole house before it can be implemented.

Sinn Fein has four MPs: Adams, McGuinness, Michelle Gildernew and Pat Doherty. They have not taken their seats in parliament because they do not recognise Britain’s jurisdiction over Northern Ireland and will not swear the oath of allegiance.

However, their principles did not extend to their refusing to claim a total of £440,000 in parliamentary expenses and allowances last year. Last month the Independent Monitoring Commission, set up to observe paramilitary ceasefires, found that senior Sinn Fein figures had sat on IRA bodies that sanctioned the robbery.

As a result it recommended the penalties, pointing out that a fine would seem “paltry” compared with the £26.5m stolen from the Northern Bank by an IRA gang.

Evidence has grown of Sinn Fein’s close involvement in the robbery and other multi- million-pound IRA criminality. The British and Irish governments have been accused of turning a blind eye to these activities for the sake of the peace process, but they hope the Commons sanction will be seen in the context of a general crackdown on the IRA.

In an operation involving the Irish republic’s criminal assets bureau and police, several people were arrested or questioned last week — including one serving and two former Sinn Fein officials — and £2.3m was seized in a wheelie bin behind a bungalow in Co Cork. One man was seen burning sterling banknotes in his garden. When police raided the house they found arms and ammunition.

Another man handed £175,000 into a Cork police station because he suspected it was laundered money and a third was arrested after being found with thousands of euros concealed in a box of Daz washing powder.

The biggest name so far caught up in the dragnet has been Phil Flynn, a senior figure in the Irish financial world who acts as a government adviser. Flynn has been questioned but not charged and he denies all wrongdoing.

He has stepped aside as chairman of the Bank of Scotland’s Irish subsidiary and from the boards of a number of public bodies. His home and offices were searched and documents were seized.

Flynn, who has described himself on Irish television as an “unrepentant republican”, was drawn into the investigation because he is a non-executive director of Chesterton Finance, a Cork-based concern that is central to the money laundering investigation.

Flynn was also, until last Friday, non-executive director of Harcourt Developments, a British-Irish property firm whose British headquarters are in Bagshot, Surrey, near the home of the Earl of Wessex. Andrew Parker Bowles, former husband of Camilla, is a director of Harcourt. There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by Harcourt.

One senior Irish government source said that Flynn had been seen in the company of senior IRA members, including Thomas “Slab” Murphy, the organisation’s chief of staff.

Last month Flynn travelled to Bulgaria with Ted Cunningham, 57, who owns Chesterton. Cunningham was allegedly placed under surveillance by Irish Special Branch six months ago after claims that he had attended a meeting with Bulgarian arms dealers.

Flynn said the trip had been to look at property investments and that it was nothing to do with money laundering.

Although now a highly respected business figure, Flynn has a colourful past. In 1972 he gave written evidence to an IRA “court of inquiry” into a failed arms deal in Czechoslovakia. In handwritten notes, Flynn denied leaking details to the BBC. He also describes his role in driving Joe Cahill, a senior IRA figure involved in setting up the arms deal.

In 1975 he acted as a mediator to secure the release of Tiede Herrema, a Dutch businessman kidnapped by the IRA, and he has since spoken out against the tactic of kidnapping.

In the 1980s Flynn quickly rose through the ranks of Sinn Fein and became director of its economic resistance campaign. He was elected vice-president of Sinn Fein in 1983 but later resigned. He pledged that his experience and support would always be available to the republican movement.

Since then Flynn has become a leading business figure and has been used as a troubleshooter and mediator for the current Irish government in a number of disputes.

Irish police sources say it will take some time to study all the papers seized from Flynn, Chesterton and a number of solicitors’ and accountancy practices that were also raided; only then will they have a fuller idea of who was and was not involved. They are, however, satisfied that the bulk of the banknotes seized were connected to the Northern Bank robbery.

The only notes to be recovered in Northern Ireland were found at Newforge country club, Belfast, which is used mainly by serving and retired police officers. Police regard the find as an attempt to divert their investigation.


Terror Alert In Hunt For IRA Cash

Henry McDonald, Ireland editor
Sunday February 20, 2005
The Observer

Police and military across Northern Ireland have been put on high alert against a terrorist attack as the peace process plunged deeper into crisis over the widening investigation into IRA money laundering and robberies and the involvement of Sinn Fein.

As Irish police recovered millions of pounds of bank notes from the pre-Christmas raid on Northern Bank - Europe's biggest bank robbery - The Observer has learnt that the most serious security warning since the breakdown of the 1996 ceasefire has been issued to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

'Every serving officer has been told to take their weapons everywhere they go, even off duty,' a senior detective said. The warnings come just one week after the Army put troops on stand-by for a booby trap attack.

It is unclear if any attacks would constitute a breach of the Provisional IRA ceasefire or instead come from one of the two main republican dissident groups. Detectives claim that in parts of Northern Ireland, such as North Antrim and South Derry, there has been an 'overlapping relationship'.

While police will not comment publicly about the fresh security alert, senior detectives expressed concern that the attack could involve a large explosion in the north.

Sinn Fein has reacted angrily to reports that the Garda has uncovered an IRA money-laundering scam that involved cash from December's Northern Bank robbery. On his return from a book tour in Spain yesterday, party president Gerry Adams predicted that Sinn Fein would 'weather this storm'.

Adams said he would never allow himself to be tainted with criminality. 'What's happening is quite disgraceful and an attempt to destroy Sinn Fein and it won't work,' he added.

The West Belfast MP also denied suggestions that there were serious divisions within mainstream republicanism.

Irish Labour leader Pat Rabbitte agreed the republican movement remained cohesive and united, but urged voters across Ireland to reassess the opinions and motives of the leadership.

'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 Fein government on both parts of the island?' he asked.

The Garda's investigation into an alleged IRA money-laundering scam had been going on for almost three weeks before the raids and is expected to last for at least three months. A detective said yesterday that the breakthrough came with the discovery of Northern Bank notes being burned on a bonfire at a garden in Passage West, Cork. He said police were now 'very confident' that they could link a quantity of the estimated £3 million seized at several locations in the Irish Republic to cash taken from the Northern Bank raid.

'The burning of the bank notes was a significant breakthrough because they belonged to the Northern Bank,' an officer from the PSNI monitoring the Garda operation told The Observer.

Among the lines of inquiry the Garda and the Republic's Criminal Assets Bureau are focusing on is the channelling of 'dirty money' out of Ireland and into Libya and Bulgaria.

'We are talking about holding companies, and in Bulgaria's case the purchase of vast amounts of property. The money we think that's out there is not tens of millions but hundreds of millions,' one Gardai said.

All but one of the eight people arrested in Cork and Dublin have been freed. It could take six months before files are sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions. Don Bullman, a chef in his thirties, was described in court as a dissident, but it has since emerged that he sold tickets to Sinn Fein functions in 1999.


Ard Fheis RTE Broadcast: Bad Reception

RTE will decide this week if Sinn Fein should be allowed to broadcast its ard fheis live next month. Senior television executives in RTE are seeking legal advice after other political parties complained that the timing of the Sinn Fein conference is too close to the Meath and Kildare North by-elections and could give the party’s candidates an unfair advantage.

The ard fheis will be held from March 4-6, the weekend before the by-elections on March 11. Sinn Fein secured a broadcasting slot with RTE three months ago, before a date for the by-elections had been decided.

Peter Feeney, RTE’s head of public affairs policy, said: “We have to try and achieve balance in the by-elections.”


Peace Process Still Needs Sinn Fein Leaders

20 February 2005 By Vincent Browne

There are times when Bertie Ahern is impressive. Yes, he mangles language and meaning, he is deliberately obtuse on issues concerning money and Fianna Fáil, and he fails to articulate a ‘national purpose' (a shuddering 1960s term which is perhaps best left aside).

But amid media and political clamour, sometimes he gets it dead right, such as last Friday following the discovery of a significant number of bank notes in Cork and Dublin.

He pointed out that 15 years ago we were talking about murder and mayhem. Now we are talking about a bank robbery, however spectacular. He said that the point of the peace process was to end murder and violence and, after that, the ancillary criminality. People aren't being killed any more - at least not on the scale of 15 years ago - and that is a huge gain.

This doesn't mean that the discovery of massive amounts of money in the control or possession of Sinn Féin members is not significant and will not have ramifications for quite a while.

It is not clear yet whether this money was stolen in the Northern Bank robbery in Belfast on December 20. But does it matter? If Sinn Féin is linked with large-scale money laundering, irrespective of where the money originated, it is serious.

It hugely damages the credibility of Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness and confers on Sinn Féin a mantle of criminality that will make its acceptance in any of the political establishments impossible – for a while.

If Adams and McGuinness knew about the robbery and/or money laundering, they cannot be trusted. How could other political parties enter government with anyone who has been so duplicitous?

It is no longer credible, given the evidence of Sinn Féin engagement in money-laundering, that it - or rather the IRA (if the distinction makes any difference) - did not carry out the Northern Bank job.

We are talking about vast amounts of money, almost €40 million. What would a political party do with that amount?

I don't believe the point of stealing such money was to underwrite Sinn Féin for several years to come.

I think there must be some other, far more sinister, purpose, such as going back to war at some stage in the future - this time with far more sophisticated and devastating weaponry than anything previously deployed by the Provos.

If that is what they are about, then it is just as well we know now. It would bring an end to the peace process and other means must be secured to stabilise the North and preserve the peace generally on these islands. That is if Adams and McGuinness knew about it.

If they did not, the situation may be even more perilous. It would mean that they are no longer in control of the movement, that others are in charge and running things to a very different agenda.

Adams and McGuinness have the option either of going along with this for a while, in the hope of turning things around, or abandoning ship, as both seemed to be hinting at in the last few days.

Abandoning ship amounts to the same thing as abandoning the peace process. The point of the peace process was to bring a united republican movement into exclusively democratically peaceful politics.

Adams and McGuinness abandoning ship now means abandoning that objective.

We are then left with the prospect of attempting to construct arrangements, vulnerable to the destruction of a still-powerful IRA, still supported by a sizeable section - albeit a minority - of the nationalist community in the North. It would not work.

The best outcome is that Adams and McGuinness remain involved and that they attempt to retrieve the situation.

The problem for the rest of us is knowing whether Adams and McGuinness are attempting to retrieve a situation internally where they have lost control, or whether they have been involved in this carry-on all along. If it is the latter, then doing business with them is hazardous.

I suppose the answer is simply to assume the benign scenario and edge them and the republican movement back to the position of December 8, when they were about to agree to complete decommissioning and, more significantly, to accept the police force in the North.

The latter is by far the most important objective. Declarations on criminality don't matter, as they could disguise an altogether different intent. Decommissioning doesn't matter if the IRA has a vast treasure trove with which it can replenish every weapon it decommissions.

The issue is policing. If Sinn Féin is tied into policing, committed to urging its supporters and everyone else to cooperate with the police, to give them all information they have on criminality, on possession of illegal weapons, on murders and punishment beatings, then the problem - all of the problem - is resolved. Of course, there will be glitches along the way, but the problem will have been resolved in the medium to long term.

Meanwhile, what effect will all of this have on the Sinn Féin vote?

I suspect none at all. Those who vote Sinn Féin do so, one way or another, as an expression of alienation from the political establishment, north and south. This vote will not be put off by the odd bank robbery, however spectacular.

Indeed, the more spectacular, the more enthusiastically they will vote Sinn Féin. And, as every week goes by, the political, social and business establishments provide more and more reasons for the alienated to be more alienated, and the partly alienated to become fully alienated.


Northern Ireland: Shame For Sinn Fein

International Perspectives: Feb. 28 issue Newsweek

Has Gerry Adams's luck run out? The great survivor of Northern Ireland politics has led Sinn Fein, the political wing of the IRA, from pariah status to political respectability during the past seven years. But the patience of his fellow peacemakers has at last worn thin. Last week police investigating a money-laundering racket seized more than 2 million pounds in bank notes in raids in the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland. And the haul was widely linked to a 26 million pound robbery from a bank in Northern Ireland, a heist squarely blamed by the British and Irish governments on the IRA—despite denials from Adams. Among those arrested : a Sinn Fein activist.

For Adams, the alleged link means more than embarrassment. If true, it would confirm the darkest fears over his sincerity. Since the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, Northern Ireland has seen stop-start movement toward a lasting settlement. But that progress rested on a handy fiction: Sinn Fein, as a responsible political party, was distinct from the armed terrorists of the IRA. It might seek to coax the gunmen toward peace, but could not command them. With a Sinn Fein activist held over a likely IRA heist, that dubious arm's-length relationship no longer looks plausible. In the eyes of their critics, Sinn Fein and the IRA have been finally uncovered as partners in crime. Says Ireland's Justice Minister Michael McDowell: "The mask has slipped. The balaclava has been pulled off their head."

Just three months ago Sinn Fein looked close to a breakthrough agreement on scrapping the IRA's weaponry, a gesture that would have helped to satisfy its old adversaries. The chances for renewed talks are now forgotten. "People simply don't trust the Sinn Fein leadership anymore," says Jeffrey Donaldson, an M.P. for the Democratic Unionist Party.

—William Underhill


Opin: Sinn Fein Has To Renounce Crime

Party financing must be above board

Sunday February 20, 2005
The Observer

For more than a decade the British and Irish governments have tolerated the continued existence of the Provisional IRA. In the interests of shoring up their ceasefire, both governments have turned a blind eye towards activities not deemed to breach the 'military' terms of that cessation. As long as there were no bombs in the City of London, no mortar attacks on British Army bases, no campaign of assassination and sabotage directed at the police in Northern Ireland, the IRA's 'other' activities have been allowed to carry on regardless. This newspaper has frequently highlighted 'punishment' shootings and beatings, robberies, fuel smuggling, gun-running and even murder, often visited on the very community the IRA claims to defend.

The policy of 'hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil' has been an abject failure. IRA and loyalist criminality now pollutes Irish society. Over 10 years it has created a parallel illicit economy worth millions, regulated by a sub-state Stasi that spies on the community. Northern Ireland has become a 'Sicily without the sun', where vast areas are outside the rule of law and 'community justice' is arbitrary and brutal (seen at its most vicious with the recent butchering of Belfast man Robert McCartney). There are lessons to be learnt from the Republic, too, where the established political parties have been notoriously tainted with corruption.

The Northern Bank robbery and the smashing of an IRA money-laundering racket in the Irish Republic a few days ago demonstrate beyond doubt that the continued existence of the republican movement's armed wing has become a millstone around the neck of the Sinn Fein leadership. Why, then, do Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness still need an IRA? They are, after all, and this is a matter of record, senior members of that organisation's ruling body, the Army Council. The answer is simple: the IRA funds the republican movement. As well as being able to impose military discipline on members who also belong to Sinn Fein, the IRA can raise millions of pounds through robberies, smuggling, extortion, blackmail. This war chest funds Sinn Fein's electoral machine.

Democrats have argued that republicans needed time to turn from paramilitarism to democratic politics. That time is now up. Adams and McGuinness must choose between the IRA and democracy. There is no middle way. The greatest irony is that the IRA's continued criminality has enabled unionists to seize the moral high ground, and to argue anew that they cannot share power with republicans.


McCartney’s Killers Walk Streets Without A Care As Provos Tighten Grip On East Belfast

Liam Clarke

WHEN it comes to the IRA, actions speak louder than words. The day after Sinn Fein politicians urged people to come forward with information about the murder of Robert McCartney, his republican killers appeared again on the streets of East Belfast’s Short Strand.

Within hours of the killing three weeks ago, dozens of people rang the PSNI’s confidential number and gave graphic, and consistent, details of what happened. This weekend the investigation is no further on. Nobody is prepared to give evidence that could be used in court.

Ed Gowdy, who was with McCartney when he was killed, said: “The guys who did this have long memories. People might not come forward because they have to live around here when this all blows over.”

Gowdy has given a statement to the police. In it he says he was too drunk to remember what happened, and was in the toilet when the assault started. “They can’t take what I say at face value,” he admitted.

The events of January 30 are also a blur for Brendan Devine, who was knifed along with McCartney. He can’t really be sure who was involved either.

Gowdy, McCartney and a group of friends had spent the day drinking in Magennis’s Whiskey Cafe, a popular Belfast bar near the High Court. They watched Chelsea and Glasgow Celtic on the television, and clowned about.

Across the bar was a group of top IRA men from the nearby Short Strand and Markets districts. The Provos didn’t appreciate their high spirits.

McCartney made a hand gesture to his friends. “He did it to make us laugh,” said Gowdy. But one of IRA men insisted it was directed at his girlfriend and started shouting. Devine, who had just joined McCartney, offered the woman a drink and the row appeared to be over.

What happened next is unclear, but at some point Devine was hit with a bottle, then grabbed from behind and had his throat cut, probably with the same bottle.

McCartney and Devine were pushed out of the bar. Some yards down the street they were attacked again.

The leader of the IRA gang, a member of the organisation’s Northern Command, had called for reinforcements and they came from the Markets with knives. McCartney’s eye was gouged out.

He was stabbed and kicked until he expired. A knife was pushed into Devine, piercing his bowel, and he was left for dead.

When police raided the Markets to try and recover forensic evidence from the homes of suspects, they were met by organised rioting. This was defended by Alex Maskey, the former Sinn Fein lord mayor of Belfast, who said: “It appears the PSNI is using last night’s tragic stabbing incident as an excuse to disrupt life within this community and the scale and approach of their operation is completely unacceptable and unjustifiable.”

Security videos were later removed from the bar by a 19-year-old youth saying he represented the IRA.

Last week McCartney’s five sisters and his girlfriend started a campaign to force the IRA and Sinn Fein to give the all-clear to potential witnesses to come forward. The campaign appeared to be successful. The IRA issued a statement saying that “no one should hinder the family in their search for truth and justice”.

Gowdy dismissed these calls. “I don’t think it is going to change anybody’s mind,” he said. “People have to live in this area and when this all blows over they will still have to live here. So people will be afraid.”

Yesterday McCartney’s family issued a statement saying “a senior republican central to the murder of Robert has been seen by a member of the McCartney family in conversation with a potential key witness”. The family views this as a clear indication that “these cut-throat murderers are not being shunned by the republican movement”.

Unless something changes the murder will only increase the grip of fear this IRA gang holds over the tiny nationalist enclave in the heart of loyalist East Belfast.


Former Long Kesh Inmates To Sue Over CR Gas Effects

Scott Millar

FORMER republican and loyalist prisoners plan legal action against the British government for using a toxic gas to quell a 1974 riot in Long Kesh.

They claim the CR gas has resulted in a high incidence of cancers and lung problems among former internees. It is thought that more than 50 prisoners affected by the chemical spray have died or become ill.

After years of denial by the British authorities, it emerged earlier this year in documents released under the new Freedom of Information Act that CR gas was authorised for use in Northern Ireland in 1973.

Jim McCann, an internee in Long Kesh, has been compiling a list of the prisoners there when the gas was released. “It is clear that a lot of men were badly affected by what happened to them that day,” he said.The effect of the gas, which was dropped in canisters from helicopters and then divided into thousands of little droplets, was immediate and debilitating. To think that it is now costing men’s lives is horrifying.

“We have fought for years to prove that the British used us as guinea pigs for a gas that even the American armed forces would not buy. Blood samples were taken from prisoners affected by the gas.”

Research into the effects of the gas is being carried out by Coiste na n-Iarchimi, a republican ex-prisoners’ association, by Madden and Finucane solicitors and by Sinn Fein. All the cases are being compiled for a possible action under international human rights law.

CR or dibenzoxazepine is a skin irritant 10 times more powerful than other tear gases. The effects of CR are similar to those of CS, the more common riot-control gas, except that CR also induces intense pain on any exposed skin. The affected areas remain sensitive for days and become painful again after contact with water. An American government estimation of the effects of the gas, which was produced in Britain, is that it cannot be safely used because “not enough is known about the carcinogenic or mutagenic effects it might have”.

Many of the men in Long Kesh, near Lisburn, were internees not charged with specific crimes. Among the internees and sentenced criminals were members of both the official and provisional wings of the IRA, and loyalists, including Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein leader, Richard McAuley, the Sinn Fein press officer, and Gusty Spence, the leader of the Ulster Volunteer Force.

The riot at the prison involved nearly 800 republican inmates in a dispute with the Northern Ireland Prison Service over visits, food and compassionate parole. Prisoners were largely allowed to run their own affairs at the time, even holding rival Easter parades. They had already made respirators to combat the CS gas they thought the British Army would use.

Republicans burnt 21 of the compounds used to house internees and took over the entire prison complex, destroying watch towers and prison buildings. Some leaders, including Adams, refused to burn their cells. The next morning the British Army set about recapturing the prison. A helicopter fired gas canisters, which are now believed to have contained the CR gas. Prisoners were incapacitated and easily overpowered by the guards.

McCann said: “The canister exploded above us and the air was filled with fumes. It felt as if your lungs were filling with water. It was overpowering.”

The cost of the burning of Long Kesh was estimated at £1.5m (€2.2m). About 130 prisoners and nine warders were injured.


Football Set To Build Bridges In Londonderry

After 35 years, Protestant team to play in republican heartland

Henry McDonald, Ireland editor, in Londonderry
Sunday February 20, 2005
The Observer

Beneath the backdrop of the city's ancient walls, huge fences separating rival communities, British Army watchtowers and spy posts, Brandywell stadium has been a no-go area for the team revered throughout Protestant Ulster.

But when Linfield finally run out on to the pitch at the ground in the heartland of republican Derry after 35 years on Tuesday night, there is hope that the Blues' return will not just mark another milestone in the normalisation of sport in Northern Ireland.

Those in favour of an all-Ireland soccer premier league believe that a trouble-free, friendly clash between Linfield and Derry City will bolster another dream.

'If Linfield can come to the Brandywell, receive a warm welcome, which they will, and there is no trouble, it means anyone can play here,' said outgoing Derry City chairman Jim Roddy. 'That's why Tuesday night's match is so vital.'

Roddy supports the idea of an island-wide soccer league comprising 10 to 12 of the top teams from north and south.

'The friendly match this coming week is an experiment,' he said. 'What club anywhere on this island isn't in massive debt? There isn't really room in the long run for two leagues on this small island. This is a question of economics and has nothing to do with politics. Linfield playing here will prove there are no no-go areas for clubs.'

Throughout the Troubles, and even after ten years of paramilitary ceasefires, Brandywell was a no-go area for Linfield. The Windsor Park club last played there in 1970 and two years later, along with several other Irish League clubs, refused to play any games at Derry City's ground given fears over their security.

In 1972 Derry was in chaos, with the IRA bombing the heart out of a city still reeling from the Bloody Sunday massacre.

Within 15 years of that raid prominent republican figures in Derry, including Martin McGuinness, were turning up regularly to support Derry City.

In one infamous incident at the end of the 1980s after Derry City's entrance into the southern League of Ireland, McGuinness, along with fellow IRA leader Hugh Brady, defused a Provo bomb close to the Brandywell because republicans were warned that it could force the cancellation of a Derry-Benfica European Cup clash that evening. The explosive device, hidden in a beer keg, had been intended to blow up police and soldiers passing by the ground.

Roddy admits that the 3,500 capacity crowd expected on Tuesday night will not massively boost the club's finances: Derry City has had to fork out thousands of pounds to security firms in order to police the friendly.

Linfield, however, are expected to bring only about 300 fans to the game. Stuart Gilmore, a Belfast solicitor and lifelong Linfield fan, said that he is determined to get to the game. 'There's a view out there that somehow there is some kind of bad feeling between these two clubs just because Linfield haven't been to the Brandywell for 35 years.

'Of course it's not true because Derry City has helped Linfield before in testimonials in the past. I think it's fantastic that this taboo has been broken.'

Asked if he thought the game could be a precursor to an island-wide premiership, Gilmore added: 'I don't know about that because some people might be suspicious that once you have one league and one governing body you might end of up with one national team - and that's a very contentious issue.'

He pointed out, however, that there will be an all-Ireland soccer competition starting this April - the Setanta Cup. The one-off knockout tournament will be screened live on Irish television and the prize money is €150,000.

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