Report released

The report in full

UTV carries a Press Association report Senior Sinn Fein members ‘sanctioned £26.5m bank raid’

“Senior members of Sinn Fein sanctioned the £26.5 million Northern Bank robbery in Belfast, a new report claimed today.
By:Press Association

They were also part of the IRA leadership which gave the go-ahead for three other raids last year which resulted in the theft of more than £3 million worth of goods, the Independent Monitoring Commission said.

Police investigating the December bank heist are continuing searches in Beragh, near Omagh in Co Tyrone.

The commission, which monitors paramilitary activity, did not identify Sinn Fein members in senior positions in the IRA.

But its report, which recommended financial penalties against Sinn Fein, said the party now faced a stark choice over the future direction of republicanism.

“In our view Sinn Fein must bear its share of responsibility for all of the incidents,” the IMC said.

“Some of its senior members, who are also senior members of the Provisional IRA, were involved in sanctioning the series of robberies.”

During the political fall-out following the bank robbery, which effectively wrecked any hopes of restoring power sharing at Stormont soon, Irish Premier Bertie Ahern enraged Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams with his claim that party negotiators must have known about the robbery plans during talks last year on a political settlement.

The four-member IMC said today: “Sinn Fein cannot be regarded as committed to non-violence and exclusively peaceful and democratic means so long as its links to PIRA remain as they are and PIRA continues to be engaged in violence and other crime.”

The report continued: “The leadership and rank and file of Sinn Fein need to make a choice between continued association with and support for Provisional IRA criminality and the path of an exclusively democratic political party.”

The Northern Bank robbery had the same characteristics as a series of heists last year involving the Provisionals, the IMC`s report said.

The commission said the IRA was responsible for:
A raid on the Makro cash and carry outlet in Dunmurry on the outskirts of west Belfast which resulted in around £1 million-worth of goods being taken on May 23 last year;

The abduction of people and theft of goods from an Iceland supermarket in Strabane on September 26;

The kidnapping of people and stealing of cigarettes with a market value of £2 million from a bonded delivery vehicle in Belfast on October 2.

The IRA has consistently denied Northern Ireland chief constable Hugh Orde`s assertion that it carried out the heist.

Sinn Fein`s Martin McGuinness also claimed he asked the IRA directly if it was responsible and accepted the denial.

The IMC said today it regretted Sinn Fein had rejected an invitation to discuss Mr McGuinness`s comments.

The commission insisted the Provisional IRA had gained very significant resources through a series of robberies.

“Violence or the threat of violence has been a feature of all these incidents,” the report said.

The commission also warned republicans that if an Assembly had been sitting in Northern Ireland, it could have recommended the exclusion of Sinn Fein from devolved ministries.

Police investigating the bank robbery raided republican homes in Belfast around Christmas.

The inquiry has been switched to west Tyrone where new searches were being carried out today with no sign of the missing money nor the van used. No arrests have been made.”

  • ShayPaul

    The full report link doesn’t work ?

    It should work now. UTV…sighs. A.U.

  • PS

    Could the IMC outline the methods they use to investigate these issues which aren’t simply a lecture from Hugh Orde?

  • ShayPaul

    Thanks Ambrose.

  • Peter Reavy

    PS:

    They say at the bottom of page 4 that they have met with “political parties; government officials; police; community groups; churches; charities; pressure groups and other organisations; businesses; lawyers; journalists; academics; private citizens, individually and as families”.

    They also requested a meeting with Sinn Fein, but this was declined.

  • ShayPaul

    Makes me wonder what the voice of Unionism will say about the IMC now ?

    How many chances are we going to miss ?

  • ShayPaul

    Ambrose, peteb has double posted you, but you where there first.

  • ShayPaul

    Correction :

    Ambrose, peteb has double posted you, but you were there first.

  • Davros

    Davrospedant noticed this :

    12. Parties to the Good Friday Agreement affirmed their total and absolute commitment to exclusively peaceful and democratic means of resolving differences on political issues and their opposition to any use or threat of force by others for any political purpose. [my emphasis]

    should that not have read

    “Parties to the Good Friday Agreement affirmed their total and absolute commitment to exclusively peaceful and democratic means of resolving differences on political issues and their opposition to any use or threat of force by others for any purpose.”

    If the robbery was for financial gain rather than political gain surely the above affirmation isn’t relevent and SF as a party should not be punished ? The broader foreswearing of violence that follows only applies to ministers in the executive. What executive ?

  • ShayPaul

    Nope Davros your version is too broad.

  • lo_rre

    “Some of its senior members, who are also senior members of the Provisional IRA, were involved in sanctioning the series of robberies.”

    If the IMC & PSNI have evidence of this, how come none of these SF – IRA senior members have been arrested?

    Had I sanctioned a series of corner shop or housebreaking robberies, & the PSNI had evidence I would have been lifted long ago.

    Lorre.

  • El Matador

    Davros, according to republican spin the IRA only carries on political activity. They’re never going to admit to criminal activity, so if that’s the way they want to play it, then fair enough, because that clearly constitutes a breach of the Agreement.

  • Davros

    El Matador- the IRA aren’t signatories 🙂

  • herple

    Call me stupid, but a methodology that states that you have met with “political parties; government officials; police; community groups; churches; charities; pressure groups and other organisations; businesses; lawyers; journalists; academics; private citizens, individually and as families” suggest you have conducted little more than a popularity contest. And the IRA certainly won’t win any of those.
    Given that the police/govt officials are listed – we already had their opinion via Hugh Orde.
    Given the disgraceful debacle over Michael O’Hare’s murder, should any credence be placed on the IMC?
    To return to that list: How will the IMC consulting “community groups; churches; charities; pressure groups and other organisations; businesses; lawyers; journalists; academics; private citizens, individually and as families” facilitate it’s work? While not wishing to denigrate any of those groups, in this context, what possible input can any of this groups bring to such a critical issue as who carried out the Northern Bank heist? At this stage some serious clarity is needed. The IMC may as well ask people to vote for who did the robbery by text message because it doesn’t seem to have gone anyway towards answering the two main questions:
    – (1) Who carried out the robbery?
    and,
    – (2) – the important question – What was the robbery going to fund?

  • mickhall

    I agree with PC, I would have liked far greater detail as to who they spoke to in reaching their conclusions. Just to quote tom dick and paddy will not do. This report is very lite, I cannot really see how a free thinking person could come to this report and make an important decision on it. I can only presume there are secret parts of the report that have not been released to the media. If not, it just seems to me to be prejudice and hear say. I say this being one of those who leans towards PIRA having committed the bank robbery. but I do not have to make any major decisions. Those who do should demand far more than what the IMC have produced here. Did they have access to intelligence agencies wire taps etc, we just do not know. Or perhaps I have failed to download the whole published report, however I think I have.

  • spirit-level

    herple mickhall
    The lack of substance is a difficult matter.
    Gov’ts can’t fully reveal every detail as their agents safety would be compromised, amongst other things.
    It’s all about trust.
    Whom do you believe?

  • herple

    Lack of substance?
    The IMC has so far proved inadequate, if not downright incompetent (hence my reference to the Michael O’Hare case). In fact, the impression was that some of the members are a bit bloated by their own self-importance due to their role in the IMC.
    As to belief and trust – much as I think it was the IRA – the more people insist that that assessment is based on unnamed sources and shadowy background figures, the more I wonder about what the hell is going on.
    If there is enough evidence for the IMC to claim the robbery was carried out with the prior knowledge of senior Sinn Fein figures – arrest them and try them (and don’t quietly drop the charges due to lack evidence 18 months later). Remember, this case would presumably go through a non-jury court – so it’s not THAT hard to get a conviction.
    If there is not enough evidence to corroborate that IMC claim and then get a conviction, then the IMC report is worthless.
    And we still aren’t any closer to the truth.

  • spirit-level

    I agree
    The speculation is not helping anyone
    and it’s not going to bring us any closer to reality. The lack of evidence is likely to be used for continuing party political means.
    By all sides.
    Maybe the IMC does have enough to bring in the likes of Gerry Adams, but is deciding not to do so.. we just don’t know how “sensitive” this info is..

  • DerryTerry

    Love the IMC approach. We talked to people and they said the IRA did it but we cannot tell you who we talked to or what they told us.

    Furthermore, we also believe that members of SF are also members of the IRA, but we won’t tell you who told us or who they are.

    In short we have absolutely no evidence and a report based on the word of people and persons unknown on evidence unknown by persons unknown for reasons unknown.

  • spirit-level

    DerryTerry
    Yourcomments remind me of this wee ditty.

    WALT WHITMAN’S NEICE

    Last night or the night before that
    I won’t say which night
    A seaman friend of mine
    I’ll not say which seaman
    Walked up to a big old building
    I won’t say which building
    Would have not walked up the stairs
    Not to say which stairs
    If there had not been two girls
    Leaving out the names of those two girls

    I recall a door, a big long room
    I’ll not tell which room
    I remember a deep blue rug
    But I can’t say which rug
    A girl took down a book of poems
    Not to say which book of poems
    And as she read, I lay my head
    And I can’t tell which head
    Down in her lap, and I can mention which lap

    My seaman buddy and girl moved off
    After a couple of pages and there I was
    All night long, laying and listening
    And forgetting the poems
    And as well as I could recall
    Or my seaman buddy could recollect
    The girl had told us that she was a niece
    Of Walt Whitman, but not which niece
    And it takes a night and a girl
    And a book of this kind
    A long long time to find its way back

    Words : Woody Guthrie
    Music : Billy Bragg

  • Malachy

    Does anyone think the publication of this report and the continuing efforts to humiliate the leaders will have a negative effect on the votes gained by Sinn Fein in future elections north or south ?

    Is it possible that it will serve to increase their support ?

  • mickhall

    Malachy,

    Myself I doubt it will lead to an increase in their vote, nor however will it lead to a decrease, although if this is all the IMC are prepared, or can produce, then SF had a powerful weapon. Unbelievably instead of trusting the electorate to decide fair play, the PRM reached for the gunmen to terrorise us all, hence those two pretty pathetic statements from O’Neil. I feel the latter exasperated a lot of people because what PIRA did was reinforce the governments claim that they are closely linked with SF. The governments treat SF unfairly, PIRA comes out of the woodwork. Hardly good politics these post 8/11 days. However, it would not surprise me if Ahern had told Adams and McGuinness exactly what info he had about the bank robbery, as the two of them have gone somewhat quite of late on this issue. Perhaps they are worried if they huff and puff to much, the governments will release/leak the intelligence they hold on those who carried out the heist. I really think these committees like the IMC, which are staffed by the great and good, are a waste of time as we the taxpayers are about the only ones to be kept out of the information loop.

  • DCB

    Herlpe – I once spoke to a barrister (so not the sp and I’m not referring to one of Kevin Myres little turn of phrases) who was adamant that if you could ignore the sectarianism and probable intimidation you would have seen a lot more easy convictions with jury trials than with diplock courts.

    The diplock courts are far more likely to go with the letter of the law and beyond all reasonable doubt, whereas a jury is much more susceptible to the infamous dogs on the street

  • ShayPaul

    mickhall

    “However, it would not surprise me if Ahern had told Adams and McGuinness exactly what info he had about the bank robbery, as the two of them have gone somewhat quite of late on this issue. Perhaps they are worried if they huff and puff to much, the governments will release/leak the intelligence they hold on those who carried out the heist.”

    Hows this for quiet ?

    Kind of blows your theory.

  • mickhall

    shaypaul,
    Possibly, but It might have helped if Mr Adams had said what legal advice he was given, is a writ winging it’s way south, or is this more huffing and puffing. The problem is, he along with some other leading SF members in all probability do sit on the Army Council, thus this allows Ahern and Blair to say what they like about Adams and co, because this being so, most courts would decide that he has no reputation to lose. This may seem unfair to some, but that’s life. Increasingly the dead weight (politically) of PIRA makes in difficult for SF to represent properly those who elected them.

    Of course there is an option open to them to stop all this nonsense. Stand PIRA down. If this were done, it would be a whole new ball game with the advantage reverting to the shinners.

  • Davros

    Odd that he took legal advice only on the conspiracy issue.

  • PaddyCanuck

    How do you know what legal advice he took Davros?

    Did you talk to him or his legal representatives?

  • PaddyCanuck

    “I think the Taoiseach has crossed the line and the line that he crossed, and I have taken legal advice on it, was to accuse Martin McGuiness and I of conspiracy to rob and of withholding information.”

    I do not see “only” mentioned

  • Davros

    PC- It’s implied with the line-crossing. Most people would be more concerned at being placed on the Army Council of an illegal organisation linked to killings and maimings and would regard that as being ‘across a line’ 🙂

    If I was being called a plagiarist bigamist and replied “I’m not a plagiarist, I’m going to take legal advice about you calling me a plagiarist” what conclusions would you draw about my status in respect of bigamy ?

  • mickhall

    If I was being called a plagiarist bigamist and replied “I’m not a plagiarist, I’m going to take legal advice about you calling me a plagiarist” what conclusions would you draw about my status in respect of bigamy ?

    Posted by: Davros

    Davros,

    OUCH!

  • Davros

    Mick, it’s the obvious return for Bertie which shows that Adams’ counter-attack isn’t the master-stroke some claim.