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February 20, 2005

02/20/05 – Bust Fails To Net LVF Coke King

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Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Feb 2005

SL 02/20/05 Bust Fails To Net LVF Coke King
SL 02/20/05 Mother Of UVF Victim: Not A Penny In Compensation
SL 02/20/05 UVF 'Pressgang' Kids
SL 02/20/05 Sunday Life Comment: UVF Leave Our Kids Alone
SL 02/20/05 O'Loans Office To Probe Cop Hunt For UDA Murder Gang
SF 02/20/05 Adams - Focus On Peace Process Not Smashing Sinn Féin
SL 02/20/05 One Charged Following Swoops
SL 02/20/05 Raids Will Uncover IRA Cash Network
BB 02/20/05 Orde Blames IRA Over Money Plant
SL 02/20/05 Raiders Can Now Beat Cashbox Dye Mechanism
UT 02/20/05 McDowell Accuses Sinn Fein Trio
IO 02/20/05 Ahern: Govt 'Satisfied' IRA, SF Leadership Linked
AP 02/20/05 Shawn Pogatchnik: Sinn Feinn Leaders Also Command IRA
IO 02/20/05 DUP: Punish SF For Bank Robbery
SL 02/20/05 Justice For Robert: Sister Says She May Take On SF
SL 02/20/05 Stakeknifed In The Back!
SL 02/20/05 Mick Magennis: Legend Of The Falls
SL 02/20/05 Bank Heist: I Van Idea For A Great Movie
SL 02/20/05 Who Was The Sea Tragedy Victim Found With £900
SL 02/20/05 I'm Talking Telephone Numbers

RT 02/20/05 Momentous Week In Money Laundering Probe – A(5)

Momentous Week In Money Laundering Probe – A(5)

Paschal Sheehy, Southern Editor, has the latest in the criminal investigation into money laundering

John Mooney, Crime Correspondent, The Star, explains the crime of money laundering and how it is operated

Tommie Gorman, Northern Editor, talks to the Northern Ireland Chief Constable, Hugh Orde, about this week's developments

Sinn Féin's Chief Negotiator, reacts to the Justice Minister's assertion that he is a member of the IRA army council

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern, gives his view on IRA criminality and Sinn Féin


Bust Fails To Net LVF Coke King

By Ciaran McGuigan
20 February 2005

THE crime boss running the LVF's multi-million pound drugs empire was last night still a free man - despite one of his minions being banged up for four years.

The 'Mr Big' - who divides his time between Spain, Holland and fishing trips to the Republic - was yesterday believed to be holed up in his mid-Ulster stronghold.

Sunday Life is unable to name the man for legal reasons. For - amazingly - he has never been convicted of any crime in Northern Ireland, although some of his associates have served lengthy sentences for terror offences.

But senior security sources are in no doubt he was the organiser behind what was the largest seizure of cocaine in the province.

Meanwhile, his associate - cocaine-mixer Conrad Litter (34) - last week started a four-year jail term for being caught with the terror boss's coke haul.

Litter, who was not in the LVF, but was working alongside it, was caught red-handed when cops raided premises in mid-Ulster in October 2003.

He was in the process of mixing eight kilos of cocaine with other bulking agents, which would have left his LVF paymasters with 16 kilos of the drug.

The stash was to be distributed to LVF units throughout Ulster, to be sold on at up to £60 per ounce.

Litter - originally from the nationalist Garvaghy Road area of Portadown, but living in Hilden, near Lisburn - will have to serve two years' probation at the end of his sentence.

At the time of the seizure, the then-head of the Drugs Squad, Detective Superintendent George McCauley, said the LVF gang behind the drugs was intent on flooding Northern Ireland with cocaine.

One senior security source said last night: "There's no doubt this gear was the LVF's, and no doubt who the main organiser was.

"Litter was on top of the stuff when he was caught - he was literally covered in it. But the other guy would never have got too close to the gear."

It's understood the drugs arrived in Ulster from Colombia via Europe's sex-and-drugs capital, Amsterdam.

The leader of the LVF's drugs operation is known to have strong contacts in the Dutch city.

And it is believed he may have had a stake in a huge ecstasy 'factory' that was raided in Amsterdam just weeks after Litter was arrested.

On that occasion, Dutch authorities recovered more than £8m-worth of drugs and drug-making equipment.

In spite of the major financial hits, he is still believed to be heavily involved in importing drugs to Ulster.


Mother Of UVF Victim: Not A Penny In Compensation

By Ciaran McGuigan
20 February 2005

THE grieving mother of a young man murdered by the UVF has been told she won't get a PENNY in compensation.

Ann Robb, whose son Andrew - along with pal David McIlwaine - was butchered by a loyalist murder gang, was handed the devastating news on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the double-killing.

Ms Robb had applied to the NIO for compensation. But her application was refused, because Andrew had a record for committing a number of petty offences.

Ann's attempts to appeal the decision fell apart, when she was refused legal aid. And, just 24 hours before yesterday's anniversary, her solicitor informed her that an appeal to the Legal Aid Commission had also failed.

"It feels like they are saying to us that Andrew's life is worth nothing," she told Sunday Life.

"Okay, Andrew had a record, but it was just small stuff, and it had nothing to do with paramilitaries. Andrew was the victim of loyalist paramilitaries, and we, as his family, are also victims.

"I don't have a criminal record and Andrew's daughter doesn't have a criminal record, but the way we have been treated, we feel like criminals. It is particularly hard to stomach when you see paramilitaries, who have been in jail for all sorts of crimes, coming out of jail and receiving money."

The murders of Andrew (19) and David (18) was seen as a grisly by-product of a UVF/LVF feud.

Their mutilated bodies were discovered in a country lane outside Tandragee, on February 20, 2000.

No one has ever been convicted of the double-murder. One man charged in 2000 was later released, after the DPP decided evidence was not strong enough to pursue a case.

Added Ms Robb: "After five years, it is still not any easier for us to get over losing Andrew in the way we did."

One suspect - who was arrested, and later released without charge - recently took his own life. Noel Dillon had initially fled to the Republic after being released, but returned north, and was living in Belfast.

His body was found in a house in Armagh, last month.


UVF 'Pressgang' Kids

By Stephen Breen
20 February 2005

COPS last night launched a probe, after it was claimed a loyalist terror group had embarked on a recruitment drive at a top Ulster school.

The alarm was raised, after a worried parent told police that second-year pupils at Dundonald High School, in east Belfast, had been asked to join the UVF's youth wing, the Young Citizens Volunteers (YCV).

Sunday Life understands the pupils were urged to join the terror group's junior wing by some of its leading members.

It is believed the recruitment drive has been going on for the last four months, and was sanctioned in order to boost the YCV's ranks, in the east of the city.

Said a police spokesman: "Police are aware of these allegations, and are currently looking into it."

The Department of Education has been made aware of the claims, and the school's board of governors are also set to discuss the claims.

Dundonald High School's principal, Josey Cushnahan, confirmed the school was now addressing the matter.

Said Mrs Cushnahan: "I have spoken to the board of governors about this allegation, and we will later decide how to address the issue.

"We will also need the support of the appropriate authorities, such as the police, on how to deal with the issue."

A spokeswoman for the Department of Education said it was aware of the claims, adding: "This is now a matter for the police."

A senior security source told us the YCV's latest recruitment campaign was the "talking point" in east Belfast.

Said the source: "It's no surprise the YCV has started a campaign to recruit more members, because they have been doing it for years - even after the 1994 ceasefire.

"The UDA has also been recruiting kids to the UYM (Ulster Young Militants]), and the YCV will continue to try and build up its strength.

"The UDA is strong in east Belfast, but so is the UVF, and they will want to build on this by recruiting young people to the organisation.

"Once these young people are recruited to the junior ranks, they will then be promoted to the senior ranks, in a few years time."

This latest development comes after the International Monitoring Commission (IMC), revealed that loyalist and republican terror gangs were still recruiting young people to their ranks, across the province.


Sunday Life Comment: UVF Leave Our Kids Alone

20 February 2005

THE police and education authorities have wasted no time in investigating claims that the UVF has started a recruitment drive - at an Ulster school.

The allegation is that the terror group is trying to rope in kids at Dundonald High School, in east Belfast.

If true, this is a breach of the UVF's ceasefire, and a gross betrayal of the principles of the Good Friday Agreement.

Has this province not suffered enough, at the hands of evil terrorists, representing loyalism and republicanism?

Now we could be witnessing the start of attempts to recruit a new breed of kids, into the ranks of paramilitarism.

It is too early to gauge the seriousness of this latest recruitment campaign for teenagers to join the UVF's youth wing, the Young Citizens Volunteers.

But, the authorities are to be praised for moving so swiftly, to get to the truth, following a complaint from a concerned parent that second-year students were asked to sign-up.

Terrorism has had its day, in this country.

It brought untold suffering and misery to people on both sides of the sectarian divide, for more than 30 years.

We certainly don't want to see another generation of terrorists being groomed in the evil art of killing and maiming.

Today, we offer this simple advice to any young person who is asked to join the UVF, or any other terror group:

Say NO - and mean it.


O'Loans Office To Probe Cop Hunt For UDA Murder Gang

By Stephen Breen
20 February 2005

THE Police Ombudsman is to probe the case of a Belfast man shot in the legs and groin, in a UDA murder-bid.

Sunday Life can reveal an investigator has been appointed to probe the police investigation into the shooting of Ardoyne man, Jason O'Halloran.

The 31-year-old - who only received £487 compensation from the NIO for his injuries - was blasted twice in the leg, and once in the groin, by a loyalist hit-team, on July 21, 2002.

The Belfast man was originally offered £1,900, but the figure was reduced, because he had six previous traffic fines.

Tony Blair also urged the NIO to review the Belfast man's case.

Mr O'Halloran was chatting to a friend at the corner of Rosapenna Street, off the Old Park Road, when the gunmen opened fire.

The same UFF gang murdered Catholic teenager, Gerard Lawlor, just 10 minutes later.

It is understood the Police Ombudsman launched the investigation, after the office was presented with fresh evidence about the shooting, last year.

e police since the attack.

Said a Police Ombudsman spokesman: "We can confirm that the Police Ombudsman's Office will be investigating this particular case.

"We have received a complaint about the police handling of this case, but we can't say anything more as the investigation is ongoing."

Mr O'Halloran said one of Nuala O'Loan's top officers would be investigating his case.

Added Mr O'Halloran: "I have serious concerns about my case, and I am pleased Nuala O'Loan's office is investigating it.

"I won't let this rest, and I would like to see the people who tried to kill me, and who murdered Gerard Lawlor, brought to justice for what they did.

"I will also be appealing the compensation allocated to me, because it is an absolute insult."


Gerry Adams - Focus Must Be On Peace Process Not Smashing Sinn Féin

Published: 20 February, 2005

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP speaking in Strabane this afternoon at an event to commemorate Michael Devine, David Devine and Charlie Breslin who were ambushed and executed by the SAS on February 23rd 1985 said:

"Many of those who are attacking us now are back in the place where they are most comfortable. They don't want an open debate on the national question; they don't want a focus on their management of the social and economic affairs of this island; they don't want the peace process to succeed if that means the loss of political power for them. At all costs they want to stop the growth of Sinn Féin and halt the radical political alternative to the forces of conservatism in Ireland. And in order to achieve this and to distract attention from all other matters they are trying once again to smear republicans with the criminalisation slur.

"Sinn Féin does not underestimate the serious to ensure the largest Sinn Féin vote possible.

"20 years ago when Michael and David and Charlie were killed Sinn Féin was in the very early process of fighting elections and beginning the difficult work of building a political party. Today we are the largest pro Agreement party in the north and third largest party on this island with elected representatives throughout Ireland. None of this was supposed to happen. The government thought that Sinn Féin would remain a minor player on the political scene but they were wrong.

"Their mistake was in underestimating nationalist and republican people and they are doing that again.

"And what of the IRA?

"Let me restate here at the memorial to these IRA volunteers that the objective of all republicans must be to create the conditions in which the IRA ceases to be. That is a huge challenge for republicans. Others at this time think they can beat the IRA by the avalanche of propaganda, which is being spewed out.

"Sinn Féin's contribution to the peace process has been dismissed and abused. Including our efforts to take all the guns and all the armed groups out of Irish politics. That remains the Sinn Féin leadership's objective. Many of those who are attacking us at this time have made no useful contribution to the peace process, but some have. If, as I believe, they intend to continue with the politics of smear, they have a duty to spell out how this will contribute to rebuilding the process in the time ahead."ENDS


One Charged Following Swoops

By Stephen Gordon, John McGurk and Alan Murray
20 February 2005

THE CORK businessman arrested in connection with the gardai investigation into subversive money laundering has been released from custody.

Ted Cunningham, 57, from Farran, a director of several companies, had been questioned following a raid at his home, 15 miles from Cork city.

Garda officers had carried out 17 bags containing £2.3m in sterling from his house, on Thursday.

A file is expected to be prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Tests were being carried out in Dublin yesterday on those banknotes, and on other cash recovered in a series of swoops, last week.

Meanwhile, the Irish Division of the Bank of Scotland has appointed a new chairman to take over from the former Sinn Féin official, Phil Flynn, who resigned from the post and from government posts on Friday.

Mr Flynn, who has business connections with Mr Cunninghan, said he stood down to protect the bank, but categorically denied any wrong-doing. He said he has only known Mr Cunningham for six months.

Phil Flynn, who was a vice-president of Sinn Fein in the early 1980s, is an associate of Irish Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern.

The new bank chairman is Sir Ron Garrick, the deputy chairman of HBOS plc.

So far, eight people have been arrested since the Garda probe into "subversive" money laundering activities began.

They include Tom Hanlon, a 37-year-old former Sinn Fein councillor in Cork, who also stood for election to the Dail, in 2002.

Sinn Fein MP, Martin McGuinness denied on Friday knowing or meeting Mr Hanlon, only for RTE news footage to later turn up showing the pair together at the election count, in 2002.

Mr Hanlon was released without charge.

Don Bullman, a chef from Wilton, Cork was remanded in custody on Friday, charged with Real IRA membership.

He was arrested along with two Londonderry men in Dublin, after 100,000 euro were allegedly discovered in a box of Daz in a Jeep.

And a man in his 40s was arrested on Friday, following a tip-off that he had been burning sterling notes in the back garden of his Passage West home, in Cork.

Of the eight arrested, he was the only one still being held by police last night. Bullman is being held on remand. The other six had all been released.


Raids Will Uncover IRA Cash Network

By Stephen Gordon, John McGurk and Alan Murray
20 February 2005

INVESTIGATORS in the Republic are confident of uncovering millions more in laundered IRA cash over the next six months.

The Republic's Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) has already begun a series of raids in Cork, Dublin, Louth and Offaly, following the seizure of more than £2m in Cork last week - including £60,000 in Northern Bank notes.

Dozens of financial companies are coming under scrutiny, along with the firms of solicitors, accountants and auditors who worked for them.

One expert financial investigator told Sunday Life:

"It may, and generally does, take months to complete these investigations.

"This one, because of the extent and importance of it to the credibility of the Republic's financial institutions, could take longer.

"But if there is a paper trail, or, an electronic trail, it will yield the evidence of the IRA's financial network in the Republic.

"It's in the keyboards, it's in the computers, that's the advantage of today's technology, everything can be retrieved."

Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy says the investigation into subversive money laundering will be vast.

Asked whether the subversive organisation he was referring to was the 'Provisional IRA', he replied: "Yes, and there is also a dissident individual involved."


Orde Blames IRA Over Money Plant

It is too early to say if money seized in the Republic of Ireland on Thursday was stolen from the Northern Bank in Belfast, the chief constable has said.

Hugh Orde said he was convinced republicans planted £50,000 from the £26.5m raid in a police sports club.

There is speculation the robbers behind the raid may be trying to implicate the security forces in the crime.

Police discovered £50,000 in new Northern Bank notes at the Newforge Country Club in Belfast.

Mr Orde and the British and Irish governments have blamed the IRA for December's raid, which it has denied.

Five shrink-wrapped packages each containing £10,000 were found in the club toilets on Friday.

Mr Orde said: "It is a small amount of money in terms of the bank robbery.

"It is a distraction. It is people trying to take the focus off the key issue, which is the operation run by the Garda, and the major crime inquiry we still have ongoing.

"Places like sports clubs have become more open. It was an easy thing to do.

"I am not particularly impressed by it, but I did ask them to give the money back in my first press conference and they have started to listen."

It is the first cash from the robbery to turn up.

'IRA criminality'

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

Tests are being carried out on the notes to see if they were part of the stolen £26.5m.

A man arrested near Cork on Friday evening after allegedly trying to burn bank notes in his garden was released without charge on Sunday.

Irish police confirmed a file was being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Officers investigating alleged money laundering arrested eight people in the past week. Seven have now been released and one man has been charged with membership of the Real IRA.

On Sunday, Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern said Sinn Fein must recognise IRA criminality "lies at the root of the current crisis of the peace process".

"Money laundering and robbery have no place in Irish society," he said.

"Sinn Fein have to assume full responsibility to resolve the situation before (Irish and British) governments and others can respond."

He backed Justice Minister Michael McDowell's statement that prominent Sinn Fein members sit on the IRA Army Council.

Mr McDowell said: "We are talking about a small group of people including a number of elected representatives who run the whole movement (Sinn Fein and the IRA)."

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness said the current situation was very serious but his party would not tolerate any criminal links within its ranks.

"I think there is a mighty responsibility on everybody including myself to play my part to get this sorted out," he said.

"Neither Gerry Adams nor I would have anybody near us who was in anyway involved in any criminality of any description."

Party president Gerry Adams said no republicans could be involved in criminality of any kind and those that were must be expelled from their ranks.

The DUP's Ian Paisley Jnr blamed republicans for leaving the cash in the police club.

"I think this find by the police is an act of desperation by republicans, an attempt to throw the police off the scent," he said.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/02/20 12:39:56 GMT


Raiders Can Now Beat Cashbox Dye Mechanism

By Sunday Life Reporter
20 February 2005

GANGS sticking up security vans have developed a new way of overcoming the safety mechanism that stops stolen cash-boxes being opened, Sunday Life can reveal.

The criminals are successfully combating the intricate dye system, introduced to ruin banknotes when the security boxes are snatched and opened illegally.

The latest spate of robberies targeting security personnel making deliveries to banks, began with an audacious raid in Downpatrick.

There have now been five similar robberies - all outside Belfast banks - in the weeks since the IRA's £26.5m raid at Northern Bank HQ, before Christmas.

The upsurge is the first since police cracked down on a gang that was operating across Ulster, almost two years ago - targeting security vans as they made cash deliveries at supermarkets and banks. All the gang members were jailed.

According to security sources, the latest wave is significant, as the robbers appear to have developed a system to prevent the dye spoiling the notes when cash boxes are opened.

One security source told Sunday Life that it was unclear if the same gang has been carrying out all the raids in Belfast. The Downpatrick raid is not believed to be connected, and is thought to have been carried out by local criminals.

The Belfast hold-ups have included two robberies on the same day in early February, outside Northern Bank branches on the Shankill Road and Dargan Road.

The security source told us: "The amount of money being taken in each raid is not significant - sometimes as little as £3,000, and often not even £20,000.

"But it is fair to say that a worrying trend is developing."

The GMB trade union, which represents Securicor staff, has already called for police or Army protection for guards delivering cash to the banks.


McDowell Accuses Sinn Fein Trio

Leaders of Sinn Fein are also senior members of the IRA's ruling Army Council, Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell claimed today.

By:Press Association

Mr McDowell named party president Gerry Adams, chief negotiator Martin McGuinness and Kerry North TD Martin Ferris as members of the seven-man council.

He said: "We`re talking about a small group of people, including a number of elected representatives, who run the whole (Republican) movement.

"We`re talking about Martin McGuinness, Gerry Adams, Martin Ferris and others."

The Irish government`s harshest critic of Sinn Fein and the IRA, Mr McDowell was speaking about the political fallout after a series of garda raids netted over £2.3m linked to an IRA money-laundering ring.

Mr McDowell said that many professionals - solicitors, accountants and financiers - were also connected to the criminal operation north and south of the border.

He said: "Many people are sucked into it, some wittingly and some unwittingly."

He told Dublin`s Today FM radio that there was a "deep deep dishonesty that goes to the very heart of the republican movement."

Eight people were arrested and later released, including a former Sinn Fein councillor, as part of the massive garda operation in recent days.

Northern Ireland secretary Paul Murphy will come under pressure in the House of Commons on Tuesday to impose heavy financial penalties on the Sinn Fein party.

Parliamentary allowances to elected representatives could be cut by a total of £500,000.

Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness said: "The provos are trouble. They should not be there."

Mr McGuinness immediately denied that he, Mr Adams or Mr Ferris sat on the IRA Army Council.

He said: "It`s not true. I reject it completely. What he (Mr McDowell) has alleged is totally and utterly false.

"I`m not a member of the IRA. I`m not a member of the IRA Army Council and I was a member of the IRA many years ago".


Ahern: Govt 'Satisfied' IRA, SF Leadership Linked

20/02/2005 - 13:28:11

Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern said today that the Government is absolutely satisfied that the leadership of the IRA and Sinn Féin are linked.

Speaking this afternoon, he said it was inconceivable that the IRA wasn't involved in the Northern Bank raid or in the money-laundering operation currently being investigated by Gardaí.

Minister Ahern said that he concurred with his cabinet colleague Michael McDowell who earlier named Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and Martin Ferris as members of the IRA army council.

Mr Ahern said that it was decision-time for Sinn Féin: “We’ve really reached, in effect, the Rubicon, where people have to make the decision – do they want democracy?”

He said that Sinn Féin “have to rebuild the confidence and trust of the ordinary democratic parties, not least in the republic but also in the north.”

“There cannot be this underground criminality and at the same time democracy, people espousing that they have a mandate. The vast majority of the people who voted for them (SF) did not vote for robberies, money laundering, and particularly punishment shootings.”


Irish: Sinn Feinn Leaders Also Command IRA

Shawn Pogatchnik
Associated Press

DUBLIN, Ireland - In an unprecedented charge, the Irish government Sunday publicly identified three of Sinn Fein's top figures, including party president, Gerry Adams, as members of the Irish Republican Army command.

The government's increasingly confrontational stance indicates it no longer will tolerate the IRA-linked Sinn Fein's long-held claim that its leaders should not be held accountable for IRA actions. The shift is intended to force the illegal IRA to disarm fully and disband or risk the legal Sinn Fein's enforced marginalization in politics.

Seeking to maintain good working relations with Sinn Fein's two key figures, successive Irish and British governments had previously declined to identify either Adams or Martin McGuinness, the party's de-facto deputy leader, as members of the IRA's seven-member command, called the "army council."

But during a live debate on a national radio station, Justice Minister Michael McDowell identified Adams, McGuinness and Martin Ferris as IRA army council members. McDowell berated what he called their "deep, deep dishonesty."

Sinn Fein denied the charge.

The government's foreign minister, Dermot Ahern, later backed McDowell's assessment.

"We're absolutely satisfied that the leadership of Sinn Fein and the IRA are interlinked. They're two sides of the one coin," Ahern said.

Ferris is one of five Sinn Fein lawmakers in the 166-member Irish parliament.

McGuinness, who served two short prison sentences for IRA membership in the mid-1970s, denied the charge. But notably, when asked whether McDowell was "a liar," McGuinness hesitated.

"What he has alleged is absolutely false," he said.

Ireland's claimant-friendly libel laws often have allowed public figures who were called liars in public to win court cases easily.

Ferris, who was caught in 1984 trying to smuggle weapons into Northern Ireland on a ship from Boston and spent eight years in prison, already has been identified by Irish government ministers as an IRA army council member.

A series of detailed books on the Sinn Fein-IRA movement have identified Adams and McGuinness as members of the IRA army council since the mid-1970s.

Irish government leaders' decision to highlight these views comes at an unprecedented moment in Northern Ireland. For the first time, the Irish and British governments and other major parties in Northern Ireland unanimously agree that the IRA's refusal to disarm and disband poses the key obstacle to achieving lasting peace in the British province.

The Provisional IRA, as the group is formally known, has been observing what it calls "a complete cessation of military operations" since 1997. Previously, the group killed about 1,800 people during a failed 27-year campaign to abolish Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom.

A 1998 peace accord offered freedom for IRA prisoners and a place for Sinn Fein in a wider power-sharing government in Northern Ireland. In exchange, Sinn Fein was supposed to observe "exclusively peaceful and democratic means" and the IRA was supposed to disarm fully by mid-2000.

Instead, the IRA has reserved the right to pursue a range of illegal activities, including robberies and smuggling, and kept meting out non-lethal attacks on criminal opponents in rivalry to Northern Ireland's legitimate police force - the outlawed group considers all these activities not to be "military" in nature.


DUP: Punish SF For Bank Robbery

20/02/2005 - 11:14:25

The Government will come under fresh pressure today to give Sinn Féin a heavy financial penalty when Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy announces what sanctions will be imposed for the IRA’s audacious Northern Bank robbery.

Mr Murphy is being pressed to cut off parliamentary allowances to to Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and the other two Sinn Féin MPs.

He will make a statement to the House of Commons on Tuesday on how he will respond to the Independent Monitoring Commission report which pinned blame for the pre-Christmas £26.5m (€38m) bank robbery on the IRA and said Sinn Féin leaders knew about and sanctioned the robbery.

If he cut parliamentary allowances it could cost Sinn Féin some £500,000 (€724,000). One of the MPs, Michelle Gildernew who represents Fermanagh and South Tyrone, claimed £140,000 (€202,000) last year and her colleagues were not far behind.

Anger at the provisionals heightened following the discovery of £50,000 (€72,000) from the robbery in the Belfast sports club run for serving and retired police officers and their families.

Examination of the money proved last night that it had come from the bank robbery. Five £10,000 batches of new notes were still in their shrink-wrap wrappers and with serial numbers matching those of stolen notes.

The cash was found hidden in a toilet after a man claiming to be a police officer rang the Police Ombudsman with a tip off.

The Police Service said they believed the money had been planted to distract from the bank robbery investigation and divert attention from the Garda seizure of over £2m (€2.89m) as part of an investigation into IRA money laundering.

As part of the investigation officers were trying to discover how the money was smuggled into the Newforge Country Club in south Belfast in a worrying breach of security.

Because of its clientele there is security around the club including guards on the gate, though not at the same level as it was during the days of IRA killing and bombings.

Ian Paisley Jnr, a member of the Northern Ireland Policing Board and Democratic Unionist Assembly member, said the find of money in the club indicated “just how hard the republican movement has been stung by events” of recent days.

It was an “act of desperation” by the IRA to deflect attention away from their activities.

Party colleague, Jeffrey Donaldson MP, said Mr Murphy must hit Sinn Féin hard this week.

“Paul Murphy’s announcement on Tuesday will be keenly awaited by all democrats.

“The sanctions he decides on will determine in the minds of fair minded people whether the Government is determined to punish Sinn Féin, or just give Adams and McGuinness a slap across the wrists,” he said.

Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble has urged the British Prime Minister to dump Sinn Féin out of the political process.

He says Mr Murphy should announce the recall of the Stormont Assembly and put a motion before it calling for Sinn Féin’s exclusion. He said under the rules if the Assembly did not act, he could then do so himself.


Taking a stand

Justice For Robert: Sister Says She May Take On Shinners At Ballot Box

By Alan Murray and Stephen Breen
20 February 2005

THE devastated sister of 'gentle giant' Robert McCartney - slain in a frenzied knife-attack outside a Belfast pub - may take on Sinn Fein at the ballot-box.

Close pals of distraught Paula McCartney - whose 33-year-old brother was stabbed to death by a republican mob outside Magennis's Bar, in the city centre - are urging the Short Strand woman to consider standing as an independent against Sinn Fein, in May's local government elections.

Said one friend: "The Short Strand community turned out in force for Robert's funeral.

"We have absolutely no doubt that they would do the same if a member of the McCartney family decided to take a stand against murder and intimidation.

"The decent people in this community are absolutely 100 per cent behind the McCartneys.

"The people will support them in whatever course of action they take to highlight the evil injustice they have suffered."

Sunday Life can also reveal that a series of street protests over the horror slaying have been planned by members of the tight-knit east Belfast community.

One protest is expected to take place at Mountpottinger Road this week.

A former Sinn Fein election candidate is a prime suspect in Mr McCartney's murder.

The man was again arrested last week, and questioned by detectives. The other main suspect is the IRA's 'officer commanding' in south Belfast.

Detectives are still trying conclusively to link the Provo OC and the unsuccessful Sinn Fein candidate to the murder, after the IRA destroyed vital forensic evidence from the scene.

The failed Sinn Fein candidate was arrested on Wednesday, but was released without charge the next day.

Speaking to Sunday Life last night, Paula (40) said her family was "considering all the options".

She said: "As my family continues the quest to have the men who brutally murdered my brother put behind bars, we have to look at all the options available to us.

"There is a possibility of contesting the local government elections, but a decision like that is a long way away, at this stage."

"All we want is justice for Robert.

"We are determined to keep up the pressure on the people who murdered him.

"A senior republican, central to Robert's murder, has been seen by a member of the family in conversation with a potential key witnesses to the killing.

"My family - and indeed the community as a whole - view this as a clear indication that these cut-throat murderers are not being shunned by the republican movement."

Sinn Fein deputy Lord Mayor Joe O'Donnell - who represents the area on Belfast City Council - said last night that he would back the McCartneys' fight for justice.

Said Mr O'Donnell: "My primary concern at the minute is the McCartney family - not votes.

"Whatever the McCartney family wants, needs or requests, I will support them.

"I will go to whatever lengths I can to help them."

If a member of the McCartney family does decide to contest the council elections in Belfast's Pottinger ward, they would face an as-yet unselected Sinn Fein candidate.

Mr O'Donnell has confirmed that he will not be standing again.

Significantly, more than 1,000 people turned out for Mr McCartney's funeral.

Mr O'Donnell won the council seat in 2001 with just 1,264 votes.


Stakeknifed In The Back!

By Chris Anderson
20 February 2005

FORMER British intelligence officers have offered to meet the parents of a republican who was brutally murdered by the IRA's notorious 'nutting squad'.

The dramatic offer came as the parents of Johnny Dignam called for a public inquiry into claims their son was sacrificed by Army agents to protect their top IRA spy, Freddie 'Strakeknife' Scappaticci.

Pat and Irene Dignam, from Portadown, told Sunday Life they wanted Scappaticci and his Army spy masters to be summoned to give evidence.

"It's hard to differentiate between the lies and the truth," said Irene, holding a photograph of her son on her lap.

"But all we want is the truth, and we will not let this matter rest until we get the truth.

"As a family, we can't be hurt anymore."

Johnny Dignam, a 32-year-old married man, was abducted by the IRA's ruthless internal security unit, along with fellow Provos Gregory Burns (33) and Aidan Starrs (29) in June 1992.

The trio were interrogated for a week before being shot. Their naked and hooded bodies were found on July 1, in a remote field along the south Armagh border. The IRA admitted the killings, claiming all three were working for the British security services, and that they had killed Portadown woman Margaret Perry.

The Provos later released an audio tape, purportedly of the men's confessions.

Ironically, it later emerged that British Intelligence had infiltrated the 'nutting squad' that killed the trio.

West Belfast-based Scappaticci was working for the Army's Force Research Unit, which also ran loyalist agent Brian Nelson.

The 'nutting squad's' top man, John Joe Magee, is also now suspected of having worked for British Intelligence.

Thirteen years on, the Dignams believe that only a public inquiry can get to the truth.

In the immediate aftermath of the murders, the Garvaghy Road couple asked to meet with the IRA, to try to find out exactly why their son was killed.

"They tried to put conditions on any possible meeting," said Pat.

"They said they wanted to meet with me alone, but I was advised not to agree to that. So that was it."

Irene also has serious doubts about the authenticity of the IRA tape.

The family received the recording on April Fools Day, in 1993.

"I don't believe it's his voice," said Irene.

"There's just something about it. I'm not sure what, but I don't believe that it is my son."

Two years ago, she called for a face-to-face meeting with Freddie Scappaticci - after he was unmasked as Stakeknife - to ask him if he had shot her son.

Scappaticci was quoted as saying he wanted to meet relatives of the people he was alleged to have killed, to say he didn't do it.

But the Provo executioner later quit Northern Ireland, after it was revealed he had secretly met TV journalists to talk about Martin McGuinness's role inside the IRA.

As the Dignams spoke to Sunday Life, it emerged that a number of ex-intelligence handlers and agents had offered to meet the family.

The couple are delighted by the offer, and say they hope something positive will come out of the meetings.

Questions need to be answered: Family

DID British Intelligence recruit Johnny Dignam - and then allow him to be abducted, tortured and killed by an IRA team led by another Army agent?

It is a thought that haunts Irene and Pat Dignam. The couple were first alarmed by a newspaper report in February 2003, based on interviews with ex-Army intelligence officers, alleging that her son and his fellow victims, Aidan Starrs and Gregory Burns, had been recruited by the shadowy Force Research Unit.

It claimed the three had dealt devastating blows to the Provos in north Armagh, but feared their cover had been blown, and had asked their handlers to pull them out. However, a senior FRU officer allegedly refused, and all three were later snatched by the IRA's 'nutting squad', which included Freddie Scappaticci, aka 'Stakeknife'.

The Dignams say if the claims are true, the intelligence services had a responsibility to protect all three men.

"I need to know if these allegations are true. If they are, then Johnny's death could and should have been prevented," said Irene.

"I want the truth. I want to know if the authorities abandoned my son, and let him be killed, in order to protect other individuals."

Pat added: "We won't let this drop. I don't care how long it takes, we will fight on until we find out what really happened."


Legend Of The Falls

By Joe Oliver
20 February 2005

A NEW £6.4m swimming centre will be opened at an official ceremony on the Falls Road next month - but there'll be no mention of the war hero who first championed its cause.

Even in 1946 - less than 12 months after he was awarded the Victoria Cross - famed frogman James 'Mick' Magennis was battling for a bigger and better pool in his native west Belfast. Sadly, it didn't happen during his lifetime.

But now, just weeks before the state-of-the-art facility opens, another old 'sea dog' has urged Gerry Adams and other local representatives not to forget the man who inspired it.

The West Belfast MP knows the old Falls baths site well - he used to paddle there as a toddler. And he would also be aware of Leading Seaman Magennis' reputation as the only man from Northern Ireland to win Britain's highest military decoration, as he attended the same school, St Finian's.

Former Royal Navy veteran George Fleming, whose 1998 book about the VC hero was widely acclaimed, said: "The opening of this swimming centre is something Mick Magennis would loved to have seen.

"When he returned from the war, Mick gave a series of swimming and diving filmshows at the baths, and campaigned ceaselessly for a bigger pool on the site. It was there that he learned to swim."

George said it was a pity Belfast City Council hadn't included some small tribute to Mick in the new centre.

"I know the politics and nationalist views of some might sour at the idea of such a gesture, but who cares," he added.

"The water in which people will be swimming is neither political nor religious - unless it is holy water . . . or Boyne water!

"It would be an added attraction to the centre, with a spin-off for tourism and a reminder of a true local hero."

Magennis won the VC for his part in a midget submarine attack on the Japanese warship Takao, in Singapore harbour in July 1945. He and three colleagues evaded enemy defences to steer their sub under the 10,000-tonne Takao and attach limpet mines to its hull.

Magennis died in poverty in his wife's home town of Bradford in 1986. After a long campaign, Mr Fleming persuaded the council to erect a 6ft monument to him in the grounds of Belfast City Hall.

"I just feel it would be wonderful to include some reference to this remarkable man at the scene where he learned to swim," he added.

A council spokeswoman said: "There is a memorial to Leading Seaman Magennis in the grounds of the City Hall, and we can't really say anything more than that."


I Van Idea For A Great Movie

By Stephen Breen
20 February 2005

HOLLYWOOD movie moguls could soon be bringing the £26.5m Northern Bank robbery to the big screen.

Sunday Life understands that best-selling author Charles Goodwin - who is writing a book on the IRA heist - is already in talks with film producers about the project.

Goodwin's forthcoming book - entitled Spectacular - is believed to focus on the robbery gang's meticulous planning, and ruthless execution.

The book - which is to be published by Random House - is also understood to feature the political fall-out of the heist.

Goodwin - the biographer of hell-raising Irish actor Richard Harris - said: "Crime non-fiction books are the mega-sellers of our time and this is a classic case."

Among the stars tipped to appear in Spectacular, the movie, are Brad Pitt, who played a Provo character in The Devil's Own, and Stephen Rea, who starred in The Crying Game.

Mickey Rourke, who starred as a repentant terrorist in A Prayer for the Dying is also believed to be in the frame.

But Goodwin's book is set to face competition from the infamous armed-robber John McVicar, who is also writing a book on the raid.

Ex-con McVicar - who became a best-selling author and journalist - had his own life turned into a major movie, starring The Who's frontman, Roger Daltrey.

Sources claim McVicar is planning to draw on his own experiences for the as-yet-untitled book, which is due out next year from London publishing house Artnik.

He is also expected to share his 'professional' opinion on how the gang were able to steal £26.5m from under the noses of bank officials.

Although the robbery - and its role in Ulster's troubled peace process - has already featured in TV current affairs programmes, this is the first time that plans for a major film have been suggested.

A spokesman for the Northern Bank confirmed yesterday that several books on last December's robbery were currently being written.

Said the spokesman: "We are aware that books are being written on the robbery, but we haven't had any contact with any authors.

"To date, there has been a media frenzy around the robbery, and four major TV documentaries have also focused on it.

"We are aware that some of the glossy magazines are planning to compile features on the robbery, but we haven't heard anything from any film producers or authors, as yet."


Who Was The Sea Tragedy Victim Found With £900

By Eddie McIlwaine
20 February 2005

AN ELDERLY woman, who died in the Princess Victoria tragedy 52 years ago, has never been identified to this day, it can be revealed.

And Belfast playwright, Graham Reid, has discovered that, when her body was recovered, she was carrying £900 in banknotes.

Reid (59), came across the intriguing story, when he was researching his play Losses at Sea, which is broadcast on BBC Radio 3 tonight.

The play charts the story of the January 1953 tragedy, in which nearly 130 souls died only a few sea miles from land, on the short crossing from Stranraer to Larne.

Said Reid: "I assume that the woman is buried somewhere in a pauper's grave.

"Information about her is scant. But I have no doubt she did exist.

"Where was she going with that £900, which was a huge amount in 1953?

"No one ever found that out, and even her nationality isn't known.

"Her lifeless body was found in a lifeboat with the money in her baggage, but there were no identity papers."

He added: "I'm determined to go on searching for a clue to this old lady's identity.

"She and her story are the meat and drink of dramatists - never mind the sadness of what happened."

In the play, Reid has turned the mysterious woman into the girlfriend of a stowaway English soldier, deserting his regiment and sailing to Larne on the Princess Victoria, in a bid to reach safety in the Republic.

The soldier, played by Richard Dormer, who was a hit as Alex Higgins in the stage-success Hurricane, survives, but she - played by Valerie Lilley - perishes.

Said Reid: "There's a lot of the bag lady in this girlfriend, and I am hoping it will stir a memory somewhere - even all these years on.

"How could an old lady just go missing like that without anyone ever trying to find her?

"Larne-to-Stranraer before that fateful January night was such an innocent voyage, with no danger and no thought of death. But look what happened. No women and children survived, simply because they were all in one lifeboat and it was sucked down and capsized."


I'm Talking Telephone Numbers

By Bill Smyth
20 February 2005

SDLP Assemblyman Tommy Gallagher says he's fed up paying out a fortune to be treated like a foreign visitor, in his own house!

For when the MLA walks from one room to another in his Fermanagh home, a message often flashes up on his mobile phone - welcoming him to Ireland.

And, if he's mid-call, it means he's charged international rates for what could be a local incoming call.

Tommy lives on the border, in the village of Belleek, and is one of many victims of mobile "roaming charges".

Phone users here are served by networks like Vodaphone or Orange - but in places where the signal is weak, a stronger signal may take over.

Said Tommy: "What it means is I am effectively being regarded as a foreign visitor, because although I am linked to a UK network, my mobile has picked up a competing signal from across the border - even though I am in my Fermanagh home.

"And that means I have to pay exorbitant international rates, simply by answering a call - it is absurd."

And, as a nationalist, he also resents the message flashing up on his phone screen "Welcome to Ireland" every time it picks up the Eircom signal.

"What do they mean 'Welcome to Ireland'?," argues Tommy.

"I regard myself as Irish - so I don't need to be welcomed into my own country."

For Tommy, even going to the loo can cost him money.

"And I spend more than a penny," he laughs.

"Depending on the weather, or, whatever I could be picking up, the Eircom signal in the bathroom, and my normal UK network in the kitchen."

Jonathon Rose of Orange explained why local mobile phone customers are ringing up such high charges.

"Normally, if someone rings you at home, there is, of course, no charge to you.

"But I am afraid radio signals don't recognise political boundaries."

Mr Rose says the answer is to build more masts, and his company would be happy to do so.

"Problem is when we try to erect masts, there is local opposition, and several we did put up have got the chop."

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