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February 21, 2005

02/21/05 – Murphy & McDowell Meet Today

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Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Feb 2005

UT 02/21/05 Murphy And McDowell Meet Today –A
BT 02/21/05 'Money Burner' Released Without Charge
BT 02/21/05 Flynn: I Advised SF On New Party Structure
BT 02/21/05 Unionists Want Sanctions After Find At Police Club
BN 02/21/05 No Evidence IRA Money Has Been Laundered In Bulgaria
GU 02/21/05 Opin: SF Nor Islamists Can Be Damned Without Evidence

RT 02/21/05 McCartney Death Investigation Impeded –AO(2)
RT 02/21/05 Concert For Irish Homeless In USA –AO
RT 02/21/05 Waterford Viking Site Decision Imminent -AO

McCartney Death Investigation Impeded - Naomi Long, Alliance Party MLA for East Belfast, says people living in Short Strand have told her they are too afraid to speak out

Local Sinn Féin councillor Joe O'Donnell and Robert McCartney's sister, Paula, discuss the steps that should be taken to resolve the situation

Concert For Irish Homeless In USA - Conor Hunt was at the National Concert Hall for last night's benefit occasion

Waterford Viking Site Decision Imminent - Paul Cunningham, Environment Correspondent, says the future of the Waterford Ring Road depends on the decision over the site at Woodstown


More cash seized as operation continues - Paschal Sheehy, Southern Editor, reports on the latest seizure of money, bringing the total to almost £3m

Paul Reynolds, Crime Correspondent, summarises the emerging picture arising from the ongoing garda operation

Danny Morrison, author & republican, queries the standing of information being cited against republicans

Pat Rabbitte, Labour Party leader, says only standing down the IRA will resolve the current problems for Sinn Féin

Tommie Gorman, Northern Editor, says it is probable that a connection with the Northern Bank robbery will be confirmed this week

BBC Audio: The Irish Government is accusing Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness of still being members of the IRA Army council which it says probably sanctioned the Belfast bank robbery.

Murphy And McDowell Meet Today -A

Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy and Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell will meet today to discuss the cross border battle to smash a massive IRA money laundering racket.

By:Press Association

The pair will review the joint drive against the IRA 24 hours before Mr Murphy tells the House of Commons what sanctions he will take against Sinn Fein over the £26 million Northern Bank heist.

His statement follows a report from the Independent Monitoring Commission that the IRA carried out the robbery and leading members of Sinn Fein knew of and sanctioned the robbery.

As the two senior government ministers meet at Hillsborough Castle, near Belfast, the only man charged in connection with the money laundering ring is to lodge an application for bail at the Special Criminal Court in Dublin.

Don Bullman, a chef from Fernwood Crescent, Leghanamore, Wilton, Co Cork, was charged with membership of the IRA after detectives found £54,000 hidden in a washing powder box in a car he was travelling in.

It is understood Bullman has links to the Real IRA.

Six other people arrested as part of the huge investigation have been released.

As top detectives from north and south of the border, fraud squad officers, and members of the Criminal Assets Bureau in the Republic continue to examine all aspects of the money laundering ring, Mr Murphy is being pressed by unionists to restore the Northern Ireland Assembly and the exclude Sinn Fein. But he is more likely to take financial sanctions.

Removing parliamentary allowances from Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams and party chief negotiator Martin McGuinness and their two fellow Sinn Fein MPs could hit them to the tune of £500,000.

Mr Murphy and Mr McDowell will meet when they attend the signing of a ground-breaking agreement between the Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief Constable Hugh Orde and Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy which will herald the exchange of officers.

Under the joint protocols they sign - first proposed in the Patten Report on the reform of policing in Northern Ireland - personnel exchanges and secondments will be introduced.

The exchanges increase the high level of collaboration which currently exist between the two police services.

Meanwhile, the republican movement has been left reeling by alleged links to the Northern Bank heist and money laundering. Mr Adams and Mr McGuinness have been facing up to accusations from the Irish Government of being members of the IRA`s seven man ruling Army Council.

Mr McDowell said Mr Adams and Mr McGuinness - and Martin Ferris, who sits in the Irish Parliament as a TD, were three of the members of the seven-man council.

Others have suggested the three men were involved at the top of the IRA but Mr McDowell was the first to make the direct accusation.

"We`re talking about a small group of people, including a number of elected representatives, who run the whole [Republican] movement," he said.

"We are talking about Martin McGuinness, Gerry Adams, Martin Ferris and others," said Mr McDowell.

The Minister spoke out as the republican movement reeled from the worst crisis it has faced in years following raids by Irish police which netted more than £2.3 million they linked to an IRA money laundering ring.

Forensic tests are still being carried out to see if the money came from the #26.5 million Northern Bank raid in Belfast, which the IRA has been accused of carrying out.

Mr McDowell said many professions - solicitors, accountants and financiers - had played a part in the criminal operation north and south of the border.

"Many people are sucked into it, some wittingly and some unwittingly," he said, adding there was a "deep, deep dishonesty that goes to the very heart of the republican movement".

Martin McGuinness made an immediate denial that either he or his party colleagues were on the IRA Army Council.

"It`s not true. I reject it completely. What he 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," he insisted but admitted his past again saying: "I was a member of the IRA many years ago".

Soon after Mr McDowell made his accusations, Irish Foreign Affairs Minister, Dermot Ahern, said it was time the leadership of Sinn Fein came clean about their links to the IRA.

He said: "We are absolutely satisfied that the leadership of Sinn Fein and the IRA are interlinked...they are two sides of the one coin."

He reaffirmed Mr McDowell`s statement that Irish police intelligence had revealed that prominent Sinn Fein members had seats on the IRA Army Council.

"It was quite obvious to us from all of this intelligence that, in particular in recent times, that there was an interlinking and inter-weaving of the situation from a decision point of view," said Mr Ahern.

He also hit out at IRA links to cross-border smuggling and robberies and said it was inconceivable to think the IRA was not involved in the Northern Bank robbery.

Today, Mr McGuinness denied Mr McDowell`s accusation that he is a member of the IRA`s army council.

Mr McGuinness told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "No I am not. I deny that. I reject that absolutely.

"Michael McDowell, right throughout the course of his political career, has been hostile to Sinn Fein, to Irish republicanism...

"Clearly... this is about electoralism, this is about his concern about the growth of the Sinn Fein vote."

Mr McGuinness was asked whether he would regard it as a crime if the IRA was involved in punishment beatings or a murder.

He said: "I am opposed to all criminality, no matter who is involved... I have been hostile to punishment beatings and criminality of all descriptions for my entire political life.

"I believe that anyone who is involved in punishment beatings or shootings was involved in criminality."

Mr McGuinness said he wanted anyone with information about the murder of Belfast man Robert McCartney to make it known.

The IRA has faced claims that it has sought to protect the killer and intimidate witnesses.

Mr McGuinness said: "We have said very very clearly from within Sinn Fein that anyone who has information about that should not hold that information back, should bring it forward, and there are different avenues that people can use. People might choose to go to the PSNI, others will go to lawyers, others will go to representatives of the family."


'Money Burner' Released Without Charge

21 February 2005

A man in his 40s, who was arrested in Cork after gardai received reports that he was burning bank notes in the fireplace at his home, was released without charge yesterday afternoon.

The man was arrested in Passage West, Co Cork, on Friday night and detained for questioning at Gurranabraher garda station on the northside of the city.

When gardai arrested the man at his home in the harbourside town they recovered 150 heavy-calibre bullets believed to be ammunition for an AK47 rifle as well as anundisclosed quantity of cocaine.

Gardai moved in on the man when they received a call from a member of the public who allegedly spotted half-burned Northern Ireland bank notes near his home.

The man was held for two days under Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act before being released without charge shortly before 3pmyesterday.

A file on the case will be sent to the DPP.

Meanwhile, the 57-year-old businessman in whose home €2.3m was recovered on Thursday was released without charge on Saturday afternoon.

A file is being sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions who will decide whether to bring charges against Ted Cunningham of Farran, Co Cork.

Mr Cunningham's partner, Cathy Armstrong, was released without charge on Friday night.

Don Bullman, a chef from Wilton in Cork city, was the only person to be charged following the "money laundering raids" on Wednesday and Thursday. He was arrested near Heuston station, Dublin. He was brought before the Special Criminal Court in Dublin and charged with membership of the IRA.

A bail application will be made in his case today.


Flynn: I Advised SF On New Party Structure

By Sam Smyth
21 February 2005

Beleaguered trouble-shooter Phil Flynn admitted last night that he was a consultant to Sinn Fein and advised Gerry Adams and other leaders about the party's structures and future.

The former banker was given access to Sinn Fein's most sensitive secrets to prepare a report on its effectiveness before a new Constitution is presented to the party at its Ard Feis in two weeks.

Mr Flynn, who is a director of the finance company at the centre of Garda investigations into the Provisional IRA money-laundering scandal, also admitted that a senior IRA man from Belfast had been a house guest in his Dublin home.

"I did an examination of Sinn Fein's head office and the organisation's effectiveness," he told the Irish Independent.

"I started last October and went about it like any other assignment, but I didn't get paid for it."

Both security and republican sources in Northern Ireland were astonished that any outside consultant would be given access to Sinn Fein's party organisation given its close association with the Provisional IRA.

However, Mr Flynn, who was acquitted of being a member of the IRA at the Special Criminal Court in Dublin in 1974 and was vice-president of Sinn Fein in the early 1980s, insists he is not a member of the party.

Said Mr Flynn: "I went about it clinically (but) issues came up. I would have liked to spend more time on it. They wanted to have new structures going forward, before a new Constitution is presented at the Ard Feis."

However Mr Flynn was adamant that he had not examined Sinn Fein's finances or personnel: "I didn't look at individuals or finance," he said.

Mr Flynn also denied reports in a Sunday newspaper that he had been associating with the notorious commander of the Provisional IRA in South Armagh, Thomas 'Slab' Murphy.

Said Mr Flynn: "The nearest I got to Slab Murphy was when I met him at a function some years ago."

However, Mr Flynn did admit that another republican has stayed at him home in Cabra, Dublin, three years ago but declined to give any further details.

However, a source close to Mr Flynn said that Brian Keenan, the Belfast-based former director of operations and a member of the Provisional IRA's ruling Army Council, had stayed with Phil Flynn regularly.

"Brian Keenan stayed at Phil Flynn's house when he was in Dublin being treated for cancer and Phil arranged and paid for his treatment," said the source.

Shane Hickey writes: Mr Flynn has now quit his position as non-executive director of the multimillion-euro property company Harcourt Developments.

It is the latest resignation from a series of lucrative public and private appointments for Mr Flynn since it emerged that he had a connection with a Cork finance company at the centre of the money-launder probe.

Mr Flynn is a director of Chesterton Finance, the money-lending company whose other two directors were questioned by detectives about a seizure of cash in Co Cork.


Unionists Want Sanctions After £50,000 From Bank Robbery Is Found At Police Club

21 February 2005

Unionists were last night clamouring for sanctions against Sinn Fein after it was confirmed that £50,000 found in a police sports complex in Belfast had come from the £26.5m stolen in the Northern Bank robbery.

DUP Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson demanded that the Northern Secretary, Paul Murphy, take parliamentary allowances, worth £500,000, away from Sinn Fein MPs Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and Michelle Gildernew, as "punishment".

The North's police chief Hugh Orde was dismissive of republicans, saying he was not "impressed" after the money was found in Newforge Country Club in south Belfast, used mainly by police officers, following a tip-off to the Police Ombudsman's Office by a man claiming to be a police officer.

The money was found shrink-wrapped in five £10,000 lots hidden in the toilets of the club.

"I'm not impressed by it, but I did ask them [the IRA] to give the moneyback, they have started to listen," said Mr Orde.

He said he was convinced the money had been planted by the IRA to distract attention from the money-laundering investigation in the Republic and the probe into the Northern Bank raid last December.

Mr Orde and the British and Irish governments have blamed the Northern Bankrobbery on the IRA, which it has denied.

"It's a distraction. It's 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," said Mr Orde.

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

His comments come amid growing calls in Dublin, Belfast and London for republicans to be penalised - and 24 hours after the Sinn Fein Executive held an emergency meeting in Dublin to discuss the recent events.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams dismissed claims from unionist politicians and others that his party was left feeling isolated by recent events, significantly the arrest of a former Sinn Fein councillor as part of the money-laundering probe. He was later released without charge.

Mr Adams also refuted reports Sinn Fein "had lost control of the IRA" asin correct as the party "never had control of the IRA".


Official Says No Evidence IRA Money Has Been Laundered In Bulgaria

SOFIA (bnn)- Bulgaria's interior minister on Monday wouldn't deny or confirm allegations that the Irish Republican Army has laundered money from a major bank robbery by property acquisitions in Bulgaria.

"I wouldn't deny these allegations, but I wouldn't confirm them either," Georgi Petkanov told the Sofia-based Nova TV.

Media have reported that Irish police were expected to travel to Sofia to verify suspicions that a part of GBP26.5 million (EUR39 million/ US$53 million) stolen from a Belfast bank in a robbery attributed to IRA has been invested in real estate in Bulgaria.

Irish police have found GBP2.5 million (EUR3.6 million/ US$5 million) in brand new notes supposed to be a part of the stolen money in a rural house owned by Ted Cunningham, a 56 year-old businessman, who has recently traveled to Bulgaria for real estate deals.

Phil Flynn, an aide of Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, has resigned after being implicated in the scandal. Flynn, a former vice president of IRA's political arm Sinn Fein has traveled to Bulgaria with Cunningham.

"Our services have no such information," Petkanov said referring to the alleged deals. "If our Irish colleagues dispose of some data, they will be able to verify them."

Petkanov said such large financial transaction could hardly remain unnoticed in Bulgaria.

"It can't be ruled out, but seems to me quite difficult," he said. /bnn/


Comment: A Wink From Belfast To Belmarsh

Neither Sinn Féin Nor Islamists Can Be Damned Without Evidence

Peter Preston
Monday February 21, 2005
The Guardian

Welcome - same place, more or less same time - to the house of hiatus, the den of dislocation called Westminster. It's tomorrow, and two big moments are coming.

One is for Charles Clarke, the home secretary, feverishly pushing his burden of control orders: bad news for a hundred or so uncharged, untried and unconvicted terrorist suspects, doomed to be shoved aboard planes to north Africa or plonked in the cell of their own front parlours. The other features the Northern Ireland secretary Paul Murphy, wagging his finger at Sinn Féin over a bank's missing £26m. Will he stop their sweeties, put a lid on their expenses box?

Whatever he does, the bearded boys buried in Belmarsh would settle for it in a trice. Fashionable terrorists these days seem to chant the Qur'an not a Hail Mary. But the evidence against the incarcerated Muslims - evidence that will never get near a court - is standard casserole de spook, a hotpot of intelligence reportage, informer finger-pointing, surveillance and telephone tapping. And against Sinn Féin? Well, we wait to see where Friday's Garda raids will take us, but the spooks have their accustomed role in this Irish stew.

Neither Belmarsh nor Belfast, in short, has produced facts that sit snugly with what we call justice. They come bearing allegations that dare not speak their name in open (or any sort of) court. They can be shown to prime ministers or home secretaries under cover of darkness, but that's your lot.

Both cases supposedly involve wild men prepared to kill, rob and money-launder for the cause (though some IRA members have actually killed, years ago, rather than merely talked about it). Both fall easily into the bumper bundle of terror warfare beloved by George Bush. Then the differences begin.

For the Provisional IRA, though it murdered so many for so long, is not al-Qaida. It has (largely) stopped killing, if not beating and intimidation. It has political objectives. It is a prospective peace partner. At which point, other criteria suddenly apply.

Can you vote for the cause the IRA espouses? Of course, in increasing numbers both north and south. Are men who (allegation again) sit on its army council fit players in devolved government? They have been before and may be again - as well as welcome guests at No 10 and the White House.

So, a decade after the main violence ended, shouldn't Northern Ireland be returning to a kind of normality, featuring proper local democracy and a rigorous re-assertion of the rule of law?

You might suppose so. But, instead, a curious, half-civilised world persists. The police, embarrassed when £26m goes missing, solve the crime in general terms by pointing at the Provos and thus at Sinn Féin. The evidence, it's said, is crystal clear. Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern are duly convinced. Charles Clarke would surely be issuing control orders on demand, were they relevant.

But, despite such clarity, nobody is arrested or charged. Indeed, the Garda raid (for what that's worth) follows weeks later, in an Alice O'Wonderland sort of way. First find your culprit, then go looking for a little evidence. Worse, the likeliest sanction when the secretary of state gets to his feet tomorrow, is that freeze on political expenses - a punishment of Gerry Adams and Co for what precisely?

For masterminding the Northern Bank heist? For approving it/hearing about it/not stopping it, had that been possible? Mr Adams thinks all this "a disgrace". He's done a fair number of disgraceful things in his life, to be sure, but he also deserves a hearing.

Are there facts, duly tested in court, that substantiate the charges against Sinn Féin? Not yet. Nor anything of substance that can be divulged to parliament. Has anyone, as they hasten to condemnation, supplied even a wisp of credible motivation for Messrs Adams and McGuinness? Again, and most troublingly: not yet.

Whatever you think of their history and policies, you can't altogether fault them on courage. They, like others on all sides, have often made themselves physical targets. They've put themselves on the line for a political solution, and their careers will end in irrelevance if it fails.

They're also pretty astute, well worth their No 10 invites. So why, pray, put that in pawn by sanctioning not just the small change of criminality, but a robbery to make Buster Edwards puce with envy?

Any savvy politician sitting around the army council table and hearing about that scheme would have known precisely what to say: "Stop, for God's sake, you're wrecking everything I've worked for - and clobbering us come election time."

Why, then, did Adams let it happen? Because he wants a plush retirement home in Bulgaria or Libya? Because £26m buys a load of new guns to replace the old lot currently being turned into ploughshares for box Brownie consumption? It's ludicrous stuff. But such missing motivation matters.

Without it, you can't make sense of this swirl of politicking. You're stuck eating spook stew in the dark.

That isn't, I think, good enough for Northern Ireland any longer. Ten years on, it needs its due process back. Ten years on, it needs the lights turned on again.

Mr Murphy, trimming and hinting and wriggling through tomorrow, can't supply that. And, along the front bench, Mr Clarke should pay keen attention. What becomes of his and our "free world" when we trade it for incarceration on demand? There's a stark answer to that. Its freedoms fade into nudges and winks. Its processes duly corrode. And it becomes rather like Belfast on another bad day.

Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Feb 2005
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