We were fairly sure that this issue was going to be a bit of a slow burner. The two police chiefs told the Taoiseach today: a number of operations that took place during 2004 – not just the Northern Bank robbery – were the work of the IRA, had sanction from the Army Council and would have been known to the political leadership of the IRA”.
Indeed the Irish Independent plausibly claims that the raid took up to two years in planning, and that it is inconceivable that the leadership of Sinn Fein were not aware of an operation on such a massive scale.
The report points to a number of key factors that underlines the view that the IRA is the only organisation, political or criminal, with the capacity to have organised such a raid:
“ The kidnapping of a bank official from the heart of republican west Belfast.
The theft of an unusual type of van, required to “clone” a similar vehicle known to regularly cross the Border, from a compound in Gwent in Wales.
The secrecy surrounding the heist which left the security sources without any prior hint.
The subsequent disappearance of the money and the van”.