Robbery to cause misery to pensioners

Just before my uncle died back in 1980, he pointed over to one of his neighbours three beds away in Lifford hospital and told us in a hoarse whisper that the man’s relatives had discovered £30,000 in cash stuffed in nooks and crannies all over the house after he’d been taken into care. One of the nastiest corrollories of this bank robbery is the situation it has put such pensioners in.

  • Gay

    It’s a real pain in the bum having to filter the lies, spin and fabrication from these stories. The NL like many other publications says….

    ‘Police have a list of suspected IRA figures they believe were involved, names which have been included in security briefings given to the Government.’

    The Indo now says that whole story was a falsehood.

    ‘Senior PSNI officers were reported at the weekend to have supplied the names for secret briefings given to the British and Irish governments in the wake of the robbery.
    But the report was dismissed as without foundation and detectives said names being mentioned in the media were based on speculation.
    Police also rejected suggestions they were planning a series of arrests of prime suspects this week or that detectives had information showing that the IRA’s “southern command” was responsible for acquiring the white van used to remove the massive haul from the Belfast bank.

    The security sources seem to be providing conflicting briefings. I wonder why or how or even if at all, could some journalists just be lying about ‘sources’?

  • Mick Fealty

    Many thanks for the clarification Gay, but the substantive point of the post (and, to be fair, of the article) was this:

    I can see the accountant route holds for many small business men/women, but it looks like small farmers and others not given to trusting the mainstream banking system have the potential to get cleaned out.

  • Roger W. Christ XVII

    Mick, the same thing happened on a much greater scale when the RoI (and other EU countries for that matter) switched to the Euro and their own native banknotes expired. In the UK banknotes tend to get renewed every ten years or so anyway. If you read the Bank of England website you can read about notes which have recently been withdrawn and cannot be used as legal tender in England and Wales.

    The problem of people feeling the need to hide cash in their houses is one which will have to be addressed another way. It is a problem in many ways, for example burgulars breaking into pensioner’s houses to nick their cash – easy target.

  • mickhall


    Can we can now look forward to a story about a leading republican having been spotted buying up biscuit tins?

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    At the time of the robbery a former senior Northern Bank employee was interviewed on the BBC about this problem.
    He stated that the hording of money in this way was a peculiarly Irish thing (though i’m not too sure) and that it was well known to occur within the banking profession. He also stated that the banks would take a sympathetic view of pensioners arriving on their doorstep.

    To take mickhalls’ point a step further are we going to see burly blue rinsed republicans wearing orthopaedic stockings queueing up at banks with said biscuit tins under their arms.

    ** note to News Letter and Independent Newspapers this story is copyright **

  • George

    “the same thing happened on a much greater scale when the RoI (and other EU countries for that matter) switched to the Euro and their own native banknotes expired.”

    Not true, the Irish punt can be changed into euors forever (however long that is) but you do have to change them in the central bank. Thousands are still arriving.

    From January 12 AFP:

    “Three years after Ireland adopted the euro, up to 130 people a day are still turning up at Central Bank headquarters in Dublin to turn their old Irish punts into the single European currency.

    “There is still about 310 million punts (394 million euros) worth of old money outstanding. That breaks down about two to one, notes to coins,” a Central Bank spokeswoman said.

    Last year about 10 million punts were exchanged for euros, with the busiest periods being around public holidays such as Christmas, she said.

    “We still have queues building up to exchange money on the odd occasion,” she added. “There are still a lot of people finding hoards of old money.”

    “The number of people coming generally varies between 50 and 100 a day. On a very quiet day it might drop to 20 or 30 but on other days it might rise to 120 or 130.”

    One woman turned up at Central Bank headquarters after finding a 100 punt note that had been used as a bookmark. Another discovered a hoard of notes in the neck of a lamp; a third found a 50 punt note behind some old wallpaper.

    “We have people who have found money in old handbags or coats and in garden shed,” the Central Bank spokeswoman said.

    “People digging in their garden have found buried jam jars or tins full of cash. You would wonder why someone would ever bury money like that — but they did.”

    Central Bank headquarters is the only place in Ireland where punts can be changed into euros, after commercial banks ceased doing so two years ago.”

  • George

    Maybe the Northern Bank could do the same thing, especially if they say they know all the serial numbers.

    Let the pensioners bring their money to headquarters for as long as they want….

  • Davros

    Speaking of keeping money at home there’s a wonderfully cruel short story by Liam O’Flaherty called “Patsa” that’s worth hunting out.

    This is some story. That was a huge amount of money for those days.

    On This Day/January 24 1936
    By Eamon Phoenix

    Relatives pursue ‘monied pauper’

    The old man, Thomas O’Neill of Castlecaufield, Co Tyrone, who was admitted to Dungannon Union Hospital, apparently in poverty and without friends, now appears to have many relatives, Mr O’Neill was found to have had £545 sewn up in the lining of his badly worn clothes.

    At the meeting of Dungannon Board of Guardians yesterday, the clerk (Mr William McGuffin) said that since the publication of the story about O’Neill, relatives had arrived from Yorkshire and Scotland.

    The old man for years had lived as a hermit in a calf shed in a civilised district with no-one to look after him. Now relatives were sending urgent communications from all over the three kingdoms.

    Letters had been received from people in Wales claiming friendship and anxiously inquiring about the old man’s health, said the clerk.

    The Castlecaufield police sergeant had also received letters from the south of Ireland and cross-channel centres asking to be informed of his condition.

    A lady now claims that he was an uncle by marriage and wishes to take him home with her.

    The medical officer, Dr F C Mann, had informed her that the man was entirely unable to make a will and if she insisted on taking him out she would do so on her own responsibility.

    The clerk added that he told the woman she would have to get permission of the guardians before he could be removed and he expressed his surprise that she had not looked after him to date.

    Mr Joseph F Stewart said he understood the old man wanted to get out of hospital and he didn’t see why he should be kept in.

    The clerk replied that the old man was being well looked after in the hospital.

    He knew nothing about his affairs and would be unable to administer his estate.

    He went down to the surgery a few days ago and had to be shown his way back to hospital.

    Colonel Howard said the guardians should not give permission to anyone to take Mr O’Neill out for the present. It was the board’s duty to protect the old man.

    Mr J C Crossle inquired whether the relatives would be anxious to look after an old man if he had not the £545.

    It was decided by the guardians to keep Mr O’Neill and the money until he made personal application to leave.

  • Michael Shilliday

    Maybe the Northern Bank could do the same thing, especially if they say they know all the serial numbers.

    Let the pensioners bring their money to headquarters for as long as they want….

    Or perhaps that would let the provos, sorry the “robbers whoever they are” bring the £10m in used notes for as long as they want…..

  • aquifer

    Social services, the churches, and anyone else should try to get these people to open bank accounts when they show up. The ones who keep money at home, by sponsoring the lowest and most savage of criminals, are creating a danger of murder and assault for all the elderly and should be told so.

  • Fraggle

    the only people who hoard money away are idiots or tax evaders.

  • Mick Fealty

    Fraggle and Aquifer

    You are both being a tad disingenuous here.

    It is at least a double edged issue. There are people with long memories. 1929 (and all that followed) shaped the childhood sensibilties of many of the people you’re calling idiots or tax evaders.

    According to a Rowntree research in 2001, there is also “widespread mistrust of banks, insurance and credit companies and a high level of disengagement from financial services. Levels of knowledge were low and people said they felt gullible”.

    In some cases, banks are reluctant to take the business. The UK government is trying a push campaign to get people to sign up. But progess has been slow and patchy.

    Real tax evaders are able to use the services of specialist accountants and offshore banking. The people in question here are often old, insecure and isolated.

    It’s entirely conceivable that many won’t even try to redeem their money for fear of dealing with a newly vigorous officialdom in the wake of the heist.

  • George

    Michael Shilliday,
    “Or perhaps that would let the provos, sorry the “robbers whoever they are” bring the £10m in used notes for as long as they want…..”

    The PSNI said that 5.5 million of the stolen money was in used Northern Bank notes.

    If we take it the people of Northern Ireland are similar to their southern neighbours and the rest of Europe were with the euro changeover then only 80% of the 300 million notes will be exchanged before the designated cutoff time.

    It could be even less considering how little notice the Northern Bank is giving about changing the 300 million in circulation in comparison to the euro changeover.

    80% of 300 million = 240 million

    So the Northern Bank makes a tidy profit of 60 million pounds at the expense of your average Northern Irish person just so it can prevent 5.5 million being exchanged by bank robbers.

    Now that to me is the biggest bank robbery in history and you should ask yourself why you happily go along with this enormous fraud.

    Why would you happily see the good people of Northern Ireland shortchanged by 54.5 million pounds just to save 5.5 million, coincidentally the price of recalling the notes.

    Hell you could run an imaginary Assembly of 100+ whinging Buddahs for years for that money.