The Northern Bank robbery – it hasn’t gone away

We’ll have to wait until Thursday to actually see the Channel 4 Dispatches investigation into The Big Heist – as they refer to the Northern Bank robbery – an investigation carried out by journalist and author Kevin Toolis. But several of the Sunday papers carry reports on the allegations contained in the programme – Sunday Times, Sunday Independent, Sunday Business Post and the Sunday Life. Interestingly they each focus on slightly different aspects of the programme.The Sunday Business Post focuses mainly on the documentary’s interview of Irish Minister of Justice, Michael McDowell –

In a wide-ranging interview, McDowell claims that, as members of the Army Council, the Sinn Féin leaders knew in advance about the record €38 million Northern Bank robbery last December.

He says that he remains confident that gardai will prove that €2.3 million seized from the home of Cork businessman Ted Cunningham last February originated from the bank robbery. Cunningham was questioned but released without charge. The documentary also features an interview with a Bulgarian developer who met members of an Irish business consortium led by Cunningham.

The Sunday Life picks up on the contribution from the SDLP MP Alasdair McDonnell –

In a blistering attack on the Government’s handling of one of the world’s biggest bank robberies, South Belfast SDLP MP Alasdair McDonnell, accused the Government of allowing the Provos to commit a series of daring robberies, during last year’s troubled peace negotiations.

While the Sunday Times focuses on the allegations against former Sinn Féin vice-president Phil Flynn

The Dispatches programme, which investigated the aftermath of the IRA’s Northern Bank robbery last December, will say that Flynn and Ted Cunningham of Chesterton Finance met with a series of lawyers, accountants and developers in Bulgaria to discuss the investment during a business trip last January.

and quotes Phil Flynn’s denial of involvement in any IRA money laundering –

But in an interview with The Sunday Times yesterday, Flynn denied the main points of the Channel 4 documentary. He said he was not involved in a €20m investment, and that he had not led people to believe he was representing the Bank of Scotland when he handed out business cards.

“Our legal adviser was present in all of the meetings in Bulgaria and they weren’t business meetings; they were people doing presentations for us,” he said.

The Sunday Independent puts the main allegations together in its opening paragraph –

“THE IRA planned to use millions stolen in the Northern Bank heist to buy up a €25m allotment site in Bulgaria and turn it into a luxury hotel and holiday complex to fund its political wing, Sinn Fein.”

Or, as the Dispatches web site puts it –

The bank robbery shook the entire Irish peace process to its foundations as both the British and Irish Governments angrily blamed the Provisional IRA. All negotiations collapsed. The fallout from the Northern Bank robbery still potentially threatens the future of the Irish Government, and the future of the Irish State.

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