And after the Big Heist?

Just watched the Big Heist – a tv documentary on robbery of the Northern Bank in Belfast. In the words of Robert de Niro’s Al Capone, they certainly ‘don’t got the book keeper’, but they ain’t got nothing. It was a classic case of the whole adding up to substantially more than the sum of the parts. As Kevin Toolis repeats ad nauseum there have still been no charges.

But someone had form. In May 2004, Macro in Belfast a member of staff was taken hostage, and £1 million stolen. Then in October 2004, a manageress was held overnight and then forced to steal £200,000 from her Iceland store in Strabane. A similar MO was used when the manager of a bonded warehouse was similarly forced to steal £2 million in tobacco.

Johnson Brown, a former RUC/PSNI man: “When they take over houses like this and take families hostage that is an IRA scenario. They are good at it; they have it down to a fine art”. Not proof. But, still an indication of a slick professional and practised operation.

The two hostage families (both were Catholic and aspirant middle class) lived in the staunchly Republican area of Twinbrook Poleglass and the more mixed community of Loughinisland. Even this early stage of the operation required complex organisation, familiarity with the locations, and the ability to move freely in paramilitary dominated areas. Henry McDonald, notes: “Someone had to be watching them from their work in central Belfast back to their homes in West Belfast and South Down”.

It wasn’t until after the Northern Bank robbery that the IMC reported on 10th February this year that the IRA had been behind all of the previous robberies. The IMC is now charged (and presumably trusted) with the key task of adjudicating on whether the IRA is actually keeping to their order to dump arms and stick exclusively to political means to achieve their long term goal of a United Ireland.

One person who looks to be in big trouble is Phil Flynn. Whilst on a trip to Bulgaria he is alleged by two businessmen, the Yazov brothers, to have presented them with his card stating he was Chair of the Bank of Scotland, Ireland, and gave them the impression they were dealing with the bank. The deal they were discussing at the time would have left Flynn and his partners with 75-80% of the equity in a shopping mall for an initial investment of €20 million.

One of his partners with him in Bulgaria was Ted Cunningham who was MD of Chesterton Finance, a small and apparently unprofitable money lending operation in Cork, which specialised in high interest loans to small farmers. He was arrested (without charge) on 17th February when Gardaí discovered £2.3 million in seventeen plastic bags in the compost heap of his garden. It came in the wake of a series of bizarre events. Even within the Republican leadership an uncharacteristic ambivalence was visible.

The Bulgarian deal was called off at just about the time of the Northern Bank robbery.

So who actually dunnit? Well there’s no charges, so still no one knows for certain. But the line from An Phoblacht that Loyalists were behind it should be taken with a family sized bag of salt. The former Provos story could still hold water, but given the scale of the operation, it’s unlikely that it could have gone ahead without active collaboration and support from the IRA at the highest level.

The problem is that everyone has an axe to grind in this story: the media, politicians, perhaps even Ministers in the Republic’s government, and most certainly Sinn Fein and the IRA.

Whether you believe their numerous accusers, and not all of whom can be said to be acting out of a narrow political agenda, or not, Sinn Fein’s biggest credibility problem is that their people were only ones standing next to the cookie jar.

This one is going to run and run.

  • Harris

    Being here in the states, I didn’t have an opportunity to view the Dispatches program, but from the sounds of it, I didn’t miss much.

    Still don’t know what Toolis’ agenda is here.

  • Napper

    Any money stolen from a bank in the occupied northern territory of Ireland is justified.

  • Man Farang

    Napper
    Why stop at the northern territory.Isn’t the southern territory fair game. ‘The means justifies the end’ or whatever “ethics” that you are completely devoid of. Criminality wrapped in a flag!

  • S*uinter

    Pedantic, I know, but since when was Poleglass in Twinbrook?

    Any mention of the £50k that turned up at the PSNI Sports Association club(the only money recovered with an actual forensic link to the robbery)?

  • crow

    Who says Toolis has an agenda?

  • Mick Fealty

    Bang to rights on Poleglass thing. It’s an old tick I have from when they were building it in the mid seventies.

    Re agendas. It’s perfectly legitimate to ask what Toolis’s agenda is. And Connor Murphy’s. And the Cops. And Michael McDowell’s. And the person who asks the question. It’s a question that can be asked endlessly of everyone who comes into any given argument.

    But it’s also a complete distraction from the meat in the sandwich.

    I was intrigued by the non mention of that of the sports club dump too S*uinter. Along with the Minister’s statement that 80% of the money was still to be recovered. Something doesn’t add up.

    Most of this story remains hidden. The question is how and when will it emerge? And who will it damage most? Or will its emergence depend entirely on other political factors – the overriding interests of the ‘process’?

  • Mick Fealty

    Napper, I can see that is a perfectly valid argument for an anti state actor like the IRA. The political complication arises when those assets are secretly carried over into post conflict politics.

    Now, that’s the subject of sometimes wild accusations, and certainly not proven. But it’s a crucial question of public interest that surely should be pursued?

  • Henry94

    There were three things in particular I was concerned about. First he suggested by the use of film and stated himself that the cash found in Cork comprised of Northen Bank notes as opposed to notes from the Northen Bank. A vey important and misleading distinction.

    He said that the guy arrested in Dublin had cash which was the result of laundered Northen Bank money. This has not been established at all.

    He claimed to have uncovered a money trail leading from the robbery to Sinn Fein’s election spending when in fact he had only alleged such a connection.

    I was also unimpressed by the two Bulgarians standing in the field. I would have expected some attempt to establish that these people were in fact property developers because they came across to me as guys who would have told you anything you wanted to hear for a few yo-yos.

    It was entertaining enough but not convincing unless you were already convinced.

    By the way are we going to have a thread on Diane Dodd’s UVF gaffe on Let’s Talk. (The UVF are an intrensic part of the Loyalist community and I have to work with that)

  • Denny Boy

    “The UVF are an intrensic part of the Loyalist community and I have to work with that”

    Holy cow, she said THAT?!!

    Wish we could get Let’s Talk here in Britain.

  • Jacko

    Henry94

    Yes, we should. I thought she actually said loyalist paramilitaries as opposed to naming the UVF. But, no matter, her twisting around the issue and displaying in its full glory the DUP and UUP hypocrisy on this issue was sorely needed. The ordinary unionist punter who decided to take a chance on the “new respectable” DUP at the last elections must now be regretting their choice but have only themselves to blame.
    Within months unionists and loyalists are openly colluding together, are on the streets attacking the police, wrecking everything in sight, blocking roads etc.
    So much for being new and respectable.
    Should have guessed DD was a school teacher from the finger pointing and the shrill-voiced “don’t dare answer me back” attitude.
    Susan McKay was excellent.

    Incidentally, I see that leading orangeman and DUP MP, Mr. J Donaldson, has emerged from the woodwork again now that the dust has begun to settle a bit.
    Usually you couldn’t beat him away from the cameras but not lately. Afraid of having to answer ackward questions about his new-found friends and colleagues, no doubt.

  • DaithiO

    You mean Diane (let me finish) Dodds ?

    I’m in Switzerland and I saw it. She did more to raise the UUP vote than Sir Reg could possibly have hoped for.

    And Eggwina Curry, could she be one of the high profile candidates the shinners have been seeking ?

  • Henry94

    DaithiO

    I’m sure John Major would give her an excellent reference.

  • slug

    It was certainly an interesting documentary. What stuck me was that there was a series of robberies – the Iceland store in Strabane, the Marco store, the cigarette warehouse – of which the Northern Bank was only the culmination – and that suddenly after the furore we have had no more. Which suggests that they were organised together and something has eventually caused them to stop. I agree with Mick that this surely must be pursued.

  • 9countyprovience

    I reckon the money found in Cork as not related to the robbery. They had the serial numbers for the cash so identifying it wouldn’t have been hard. It’s dirty money alright, but probably from somewhere else. The guys caught were probably on a need to know basis and jumped to conclusions and paniced after that person walked into a Garda station carrying a bag of the stuff.
    This has probably worked out for the robbers in the long run as it created a red herring long enough for them to get away.

  • Mick

    Henry, the back (southern) end was certainly incomplete and very imprecise. I certainly could not detect the trail that was being implied by Toolis from the detail that was presented in the film.

    But then again, presumably this is all subject to ongoing investigation. It may be that he was being guided by the minister’s on record statement that 20% of the money has been recovered. Although it should be noted that in itself is significant.

    Re the developer story, no doubt the truth, one way or the other, will come out in the washing. I should think there are journalists from all over the shop beating a path to their doors to check out their end of things.

  • fair_deal

    On Toolis’s agenda he does not fit the usual suspects list of hostile journalists as anyone who has read his apologia for the Provos, Rebel heart. Dispatches and Channel 4 are hardly bosom buddies of Unionism either.

    Only in the last while has he shifted position and as far as I can determine from his newspaper articles it is because he thought the Provos were genuine about peace but their behaviour including the Northern Bank made him believe he’d been conned.

    9countyprovience

    “They had the serial numbers for the cash so identifying it wouldn’t have been hard”

    No they don’t. A siginificant amount of the money was used notes and they don’t have the serial numbers. The used notes would have also been the easiest to launder so that would have been done first.

  • Henry94

    Mick

    It may be that he was being guided by the minister’s on record statement that 20% of the money has been recovered.

    That is a claim which is unsupported. What McDowelll means is that if you add up all the money he believes is from the robbery it amounts to 20% of the bank haul. It is a mathematical rather than a forensic statement.

  • Els

    Could it simply be that he is a journalist and this is a major story? Why does it always have to be “an agenda” based on an “axe to grind” against one side or the other?

  • 9countyprovience

    Thanks for putting me straight fair_deal. I could have sworn that I heard someone saying that they had serial numbers and the money was useless at the time. I’m not 100% (and could be completely wrong again), but I think the mad Mullah McDowell said it….

  • Henry94

    Els

    I think everyone has an axe to grind and that’s fine. But factual claims must stand up on their own.

  • JD

    This Dispatches programme was tabloid rubblish, investigative journalism my a**e, and where did they dig Des O Malley up from. Lets Talk was a much more interesting watch last night.

  • 9countyprovience

    “On Toolis’s agenda he does not fit the usual suspects list of hostile journalists “

    He doesn’t come across so much hostile as lazy. And lazy journalism is just as bad.

  • missfitz

    Els
    I dont think the show came across as fair and balanced, or even based on good facts. Indeed there are some juicy facts out in the ether that werent covered last night, and would have been more entertaining! In the absence of even-handed reporting, one is left with the impression of the journalist having an agenda. Particularly when resorting to using Michael McDowell.

  • pacart

    The problem they had with laundering it was that so much of it was Northern Bank denominated notes.The massive publicity and the fact that it’s not even legal tender outside NI made it impossible to pass on. The stories about the note’s numbers being known was overplayed from what I can gather. I’ve also read that a few million was in non-Northern Bank notes which could be got rid of. That the millions in the wheelie-bin (Tony Soprano kept his in a bin in the garden too)were Northern Bank notes is obviously highly significant, even if it cannot be conclusively proved they came from the NB robbery. Even in court you only have to prove something, “beyond reasonable doubt”. If the money had been accrued from other criminal activity you would have expected a wide spread of denominations. In this case there is no reasonable doubt, just Shinners unable to admit the truth.

  • Moderate Unionist

    9countyprovience
    The Northern Bank will only have had the serial numbers of new Northern Bank notes. A substantial amount of the cash (reportedly around £10 million) was in notes for which the bank did not have the serial numbers (much of it in Sterling notes).

    These are effectively untraceable unless found in a bag marked “Northern Bank Swag”, but significantly it was £20 sterling notes that were going up in smoke. Who burns £20 notes?

    Anyway, people lament the lack of Unionist contributions (on another thread). This is because there is no point arguing against firm denials unless you have proof to the contrary(and even then blank denials are hard to overcome).

    The IRA did the Northern Bank job! Didn’t, Did, Didn’t, Did….

    Gerry Adams was a member of the IRA Army council! Wasn’t, Was, Wasn’t, Was..

    Yawn, whatever…
    It doesn’t encourage people to invest in Northern Ireland. It doesn’t encourage rapproachment between the communities and it doesn’t address the fact that Northern Ireland is a nice little earner enabling many people to ignore the impact of the global economy. Ok in the short term, disasterous in the long term….

  • Baluba

    What a load of nonsense. Lowest grade journalism at its superficial worst.

    The money for elections section is particularly funny, it raised serious belly-laughs among many people I know (self included) who are election volunteers. Paid for it!?! Jesus, you’d be lucky to get a cup of tea and a pat on the back.

  • Keith M

    After all the hype, the programme had a lot to liive up to, but I thought it made for excellent television. There was little I didn’t already know, however it certainly did a good job in making the Irish government look more serious about tackling terrorism than the UK one.

    I see SF/IRA vote in this country is down to 10% on the Irish Times poll today, and that was before this programme. Glass ceiling anyone?

  • Mick

    Dispatches doesn’t do Fair and Balanced. It never has. Part of its appeal is that it looks into spaces largely ignored by the wider media and the political establishment. Just scroll through their past programmes list.

    9 county:

    Any chance you could look that serial number story up on the net and post a link here? There’s rather a lot mud being thrown in the direction of the Minister at the moment. No bad thing if he’s in the wrong. But I fear we’re in danger of losing some clarity.

  • 9countyprovience

    “It doesn’t encourage people to invest in Northern Ireland. It doesn’t encourage rapproachment between the communities and it doesn’t address the fact that Northern Ireland is a nice little earner enabling many people to ignore the impact of the global economy. Ok in the short term, disasterous in the long term….”

    Here, Here!

  • looking in

    As I and others said it was verging on tabloid tv of the shallowest kind, short of evidence long on (selected)views

    I was struck by a further omission, which I suspect was TOTALLY deliberate and an attempt to avoid it being a one sided finger-pointing exercise – the absence of the usual unionist sooth-sayers – strange!

    On the southern connections – I have heard it said that the Gardai knew of this laundering operation for some time and in need of some action on the NB case moved and closed it down..? Hence absence of tangible evidence court/prosecution-wise

  • bootman

    After all the hype, the programme had a lot to liive up to, but I thought it made for excellent television. There was little I didn’t already know, however it certainly did a good job in making the Irish government look more serious about tackling terrorism than the UK one.

    I see SF/IRA vote in this country is down to 10% on the Irish Times poll today, and that was before this programme. Glass ceiling anyone?

    Posted by: Keith M at September 23, 2005 10:16 AM

    ——————————————————————————–
    of course you are wella ware that 10% would be an increase on the last election in the 26 counties and coupled with the expected increase in transfer suggested by the sunday business post poll (seeing as how you love polls)a while back this would mean major gains for SF in the next election

  • J Kelly

    Come on Keith you cannot be serious this was far from excellent television. The big heist, were is the van, who in the IRA planned it, were was the money taken after the job, this programme relied solely on information that is in the public domain. No solid evidence of how this job was done. An hour long programme and they struggled to fill 15 minutes on the robbery itself. The following 45 minutes was full of inuendo and conjecture. Poor television that will have no impact on sinn fein vote. Glass ceiling lets wait until the votes are counted.

  • middle-class taig

    Extremely long on allegation, conjecture, innuendo and conceit. Extremely short on fact.

    Journalism?

  • The Dog

    There wasn’t really anything in this to back up his cenral claims.

    THere was no evidence to suggest the allegation it was the IRA.

    No evidence to suggest that any of the stuff in the south was connected.

    The stuff on Phil Flynn was just a joke – even the investigations seem only to be able to come up with some distraction about a toy pen gun.

    I reckon that everyone is barking up the wrong tree.

    Without any evidence whatsoever (because you don’t seem to really need any)

    It was either:

    1. A London Firm who knew that the keystone cops were a joke and that the bank security was even worse.

    2. An inside job – I don’t seriously believe that anyone in a bank would be able to leave with a bag stuffed full of cash without being checked.

    3. EX-Special Branch – these people now have plenty of time on their hands, they would certainly have the inside contacts (they have been working with crooks for decades), could possibly be looking for some extra retirement cash (because let’s face it would hire these guys as security consultants)and probably the motivation (let’s fuck up the peace process because our old mates oin the RUC, sory PSNI, will say it was the RA wot dun it).

    THe deliberate refusla of the PSNI investigation to chase any of these leads raises many serious questions about their commitment to peace. CAn any of us belive them.

    I have always wopndered why no photo fit pictures were circulated because clearly sa number of the gang could have been identified. And also why there was no reward offered. Surely a big reward would get someone speaking – that is of course unles it was the peeleres/inside job or a professional London outfit.

  • pakman

    The Dog et al

    Denial ain’t just a river in Africa.

  • Mick

    The Dog:

    I’d be prepared to entertain any viable theory in absence of clear facts. Circumstantial evidence is only circumstantial and can’t stand in for substance.

    But how do you account for the repeated MO from previous robberies? That in itself would seem to challenge scenarios 1 and 2. Scenario 3 is still possible I suppose, but there’s no circumstantial evidence to give it legs.

  • J Kelly

    Pakman
    Pointing the finger is far away from proof.

    Mick who was anyway near the cookie jar because as far as i can see no-one knows who was near the cookie jar.

  • Mick

    JK:

    That’s an interesting question.

    The IRA asserts it wasn’t near the cookie jar. Nearly everybody else says they were. The problem is that the raid happened on their patch, and their watch. And no other plausible candidate has yet arisen in the public domain.

    That’s certainly not evidence and people should not treat it as such. But until someone else walks into the frame, the IRA is, de facto, the one standing by the cookie jar.

  • crow

    These bank robbers must have passed plenty of cctv camera’s in Belfast city.It is not feasable that there are no photo-fits of these people.

  • Belfastwhite

    I had the programme on last night but had more interest in a game of scrabble with my kids I didn’t notice my wife had changed the channel half way through. I would point out that like Henry some references like the robbers using the Grosvenor Rd (a corridor to Nationalist/Republican west Belfast) was not only misleading but a deliberate wink wink nudge nudge exercise. Kind of reminded me of Sean McPhilemy’s “The Committee” plenty of allegation short on proof.

  • Henry94

    Mick

    But how do you account for the repeated MO from previous robberies?

    They haven’t solved any of them either so I assume the effectiveness of the MO would become known in the kinds of circles that take an interest in such things.

  • Gum

    This was an easy programme for Toolis to make. He did not have to adopt a new position – he knew that just regurgitating everything said back in Januaray and February would do. He knew he wouldnt need to get credible sources – since it was an english audience, Michael McDowell’s political biases and motives would remain unknown behind his impresive seal of office.

    A much more interesting approach (more work but would have made much better journalism) would be an investigation into the denials of the IRA. Toolis wouldnt have to change his opinion that they did it (if it is his at al – still think he just goes for the easiet option). An examination of the IRA claims of non-involvement would have been an original way of looking at their possible guilt. Instead, its just another sensationalist tv show without real analysis or any hard fact. A shame – there was a great programme waiting to be made…

  • Belfastwhite

    Mick

    The problem is that the raid happened on their patch, and their watch. And no other plausible candidate has yet arisen in the public domain.

    I wouldn’t have carved you in the naive bracket but are you seriously saying that because a Poleglass family was held hostage the IRA must be the prime suspects?

    Remember the Littlejohns?

  • P Ring

    Dispatches on Northern Bank robbery was a whole pile of sloppy nothing. I know someone who was very involved in the production of this programme. He told me that he was less than excited to be part of it since right from the off there was absolutely nothing to go on except stuff that had already been well aired.At the risk of this post being bowdlerised by blogmeister, my friend also expressed much distaste for Toolis and was very suspicious of his motives. Not saying that Toolis had a political agenda, rather that he had thrown the bait to channel Four and they had green lit a non-event project for which Toolis might be able to backpocket a nice wadge of readies. Happens all throughout the media but since TV is such a paper thin medium it is more susceptible to this kind of inconsequential shite.The ommission I was amazed about was the fact that the Northern Bank have replaced all their notes with a brand new design.

  • Ringo

    The progamme brough nothing new to light. It was at best a bad summary of the situation and at worst, sensationalist. 3/10.

    However, no amount of shoddy journalism will change the central facts. A bank was robbed in Belfast and £26m in northern bank notes was taken. Shortly afterwards, £2.3m in northern notes was found in the bin of a know republican sympathiser in Cork as part of an investigation into IRA money laundering. Other known republicans in Cork were burning money, and yet more republicans were arrested in Dublin after coming back from Cork with €90k in a daz box. Phil Flynn was raided as part of the money laundering operation, and has obviously had more shady business dealings with the man with £2.3m in the bin than he cares to admit. 5 minutes would have done the program.

  • Mick

    BW, I’ve got to go. It’s just a view from where I’m standing. It may be weak, but that’s all there is in the public domain to go on.

  • Jo

    “Other known republicans in Cork were burning money, and yet more republicans were arrested in Dublin after “

    ..on the weekend prior to the reports about money burning there was a notable but untraceable fire on the Cooley peninsula as well…

  • Belfastwhite

    Mick

    A bit weak is an understatement from where I’m standing a bit like the chef in the Castlereagh case. What is distasteful to me is how the collective media can or will swallow this sort of junk hook line and sinker.

  • middle-class taig

    Mick

    I don’t really want to comment much on the show. People who want to believe the RA did it will do so no matter what. People who want to believe the RA didn’t do it will only accept they did on production of evidence of a high quality.

    I am, however, concerned at your accepting as fact misleading descriptions of areas of West Belfast.

    “Even this early stage of the operation required complex organisation, familiarity with the locations, and the ability to move freely in paramilitary dominated areas.”

    You make it sound as if there’s a provie customs point at Poleglass roundabout. Moving freely within Poleglass is about as difficult as moving freely in Killarney. Especially at Christmas time. Everyone’s out doing the shopping, getting presents, visiting relatives, buying trees, getting full. The idea that there’s some kind of chuckie neighbourhood watch checking every house in nationalist areas is utterly ludicrous.

    At a time when unionist gunmen are even less stable than usual, misdescribing any nationalist area in a way capable of leading to the impression that everyone residing therein is a provie or provie sympathiser is not something I’m entirely comfortable with.

    Paramilitaries do not “dominate” West Belfast.

  • Tom

    Jo

    “.on the weekend prior to the reports about money burning there was a notable but untraceable fire on the Cooley peninsula as well…”

    Ah well. Why didn’t you mention this earlier

    That clinches it once and for all!

  • Henry94

    Ringo

    I’d never heard of the likes of Cunningham and Bulman before as I’m sure you haven’t they were arrested, so by “known republican” we mean allegedly known to the Gardai as opposed to known to the public.

    So anyone questioned by the Gardai in relation to this can be called a known republican in this utterly meaningless sense.

    I draw the distinction because when it was reported that a former Sinn Fein Council member was arrested it was reported as if he had been found with cash but he wasn’t. He was miles away from the raids that produced cash and was later released without charge. But it was that arrest which linked republicans to the raids.

    Don Bulman is charged with rira membership and if he is known then that’s what he’s known for.

  • seannaboy

    A lot has been made of the connections between the Northern Bank job and the robberies at Macro and Iceland i.e same modus operandi, who else could have done it etc etc. People might find it useful and informative to refer to an interview carried out by Hugh Orde with the online magazine ‘The Blanket’ on 25th October 2004:
    Blanket: What about Iceland and Macro – any comment?
    Hugh Orde: One sells frozen food and one sells things in bulk
    Blanket: No clarity on who – no suspects?
    Hugh Orde: ( Shakes head in the negative).

  • Ringo

    Henry,

    I draw the distinction because when it was reported that a former Sinn Fein Council member was arrested it was reported as if he had been found with cash but he wasn’t. He was miles away from the raids that produced cash and was later released without charge. But it was that arrest which linked republicans to the raids.

    You mean that until the guards arrested Hanlon as part of an investigation into IRA moneylaundering, republicans weren’t in the picture? What does the R stand for? Republicans and their associates were the target of the raids, not some innocent bystanders on the fringes of a criminal conspiracy.

  • pacart

    MCT, Belfastwhite et al, Taking over a house and holding people hostage in it for such a long period is a highly risky operation, you never know who might come visiting. Wasn’t there a story years ago about the Provos taking over a house and ending up with about twenty hostages? Anyway, to take over a house in Poleglass you would need to be 100% that, even if you were discovered you could handle the situation. Note that the unfortunate woman in Co Down was taken away, leaving the house empty, obviously in case of the unexpected visitors scenario. In Poleglass they sat, confident in the knowledge that they could handle whatever arose.
    The theories put forward by the Dog are, well, doggrel. A “London firm” could not have put together a team that size in Belfast or been able to gather the intelligence; inside job? they might have had inside help but bank staff generally don’t do violence and threats of murder; ex-Special Branch? taking over a house in Poleglass? 40+ team? don’t think so, anyway , going by the ex-Special Branch officers in the programme they are more likely to target an Ulster fry than a bank. But at least the Dog tried, and his effort makes it even more clear, there is only one group capable of the robbery, the PIRA.

  • Dandyman

    I reckon it was Ocean’s Thirteen.

  • Belfastwhite

    Pacart

    We could go on all day with conjecture about who was responsible for the robbery but what is the point until some person or persons are charged and convicted with actual proof leading from Orde’s “thousands of lines of enquiry”. Until this happens I’d suggest you get over it.

    BTW I don’t see any rush to extradite my afore mentioned chef from the U.S. maybe G. Donaldson should get on the case or maybe that would be too easy I mean an extradition treaty already exists.

  • Keith M

    bootman “of course you are wella ware that 10% would be an increase on the last election in the 26 counties and coupled with the expected increase in transfer suggested by the sunday business post poll (seeing as how you love polls)a while back this would mean major gains for SF in the next election”.

    10% is down 2% on the last poll conducted for the IT and down on last year’s Euro election result, but continue to spin if you feel a need to.

  • The Dog

    As no evidence has yet to emerge that ex-Special Branch were not behind this robbery I will be contacting the media and PSNI to suggest that this line of inquiry is more actively pursued.

    On reflection the discovery of NB cash at the peelers sports club also now makes more sense.

    “Honest gov we were just celebrating and I didn’t want to have all that cash on me.”

    But on a more serious note – there are certain ex-special branch who have very visable links with the DUP – I think that there must be a demand to know exactly how deep the links between the DUP and this gang of ex-RUC bank robbers are.

    The shared political motivation to destroy the peace process is surely proof that suspicion is justified.

    In particular there is strong eveidence of a joint approach between a named memeber of this ex-RUC Special Branch gang of bank robbers(B**l L*w**y)and the DUP aimed at undermining the attempts to get the peace process back on track at the time when this robbery was being planned.

    I think all right thinking people should be up in arms at this clear attempt to also make the PSNI look like clowns.

    In the wake of the recent Loyalist/Orange/Unionist inspired violence I think that we must now vilify this new axis of evil and its terrorist potential to detsabalise the democratic process.

    We must know – are uniomnists fit for government.

    Are Sinn Fein prepared to sit in government with people who are not commited to using exclusively peaceful and deomcratic means.

    Particularly now that unionists have deomstrated that they are orchestrating loyalist violence and fermenting sectarian hatred for political (and posibly financial) gain.

    I personally think that no-one should go into government with these unreconstructed terrorist and their appologists (although they didn’t exactly appologise but I don’t think excusionists is a word).

    The British government should disown these violent and dangerous terrorists as part of their commitment to stand with democrats against the evil of men who want to ferment sectarian and religious hatred and violence.

    The men of violence should not be allowed to block progress. Support democracy. Jail these bank robberies and their cronnies.Ian Paisley should be in jail – his very public links with the aforementioned Old Bill mean that he must surely have had prior knowledge of this robbery.

    What about his role in the Loyalist fued and the attacks on homes, churches and schools of innocent catholics in his North Antrim DUP controlled heartland.

    The DUP must not be allowed to exercise its malign influence. End the terrorist threat.

  • Dick Doggins

    The programme at the end let me down…sitting there in the house cuppa in hand waiting for them to tell me McDowell had hidden evidence from Gardi sources, that Elvis and Lord Lucan where ringleaders and that Sheagar was used in transporting some of the cash across border fields!!!

  • elfinto

    For me the biggest surprise about last night’s program was that a staunch ex-Provo like John Kelly was prepared to discuss on camera the extent of Gerry Adam’s authority over the IRA.

  • pacart

    Moderate Unionist is right about this subject, irresistable force meets immovable object and all that. Everyone knows the PIRA did the job but there just aint no way the shinners are ever going to admit it publicly. Instead we get this tiresome nonsense that there might exist out there some other mysterious group, with the necessary resouces, expertise and discipline, free to operate in W. Belfast, who might have done it. That millions in NB denomination notes then turn up in the gardens of known Republicans in Cork apparently is neither here nor there.
    The Shinners are like creationists who deny evolution on the grounds that a complete fossil record does not exist, disregarding the mountain of circumstantial evidence ( it is dishonest to say that circumstantial evidence is worthless, it is often more than enough, even in a court of law) whilst refusing to offer any other vaguely plausible theory. It’s pointless arguing if your hope is to change their position, they are zealots and not open to rational discussion.

  • Henry94

    pacart

    There is nobody here, as far as I know, claiming as a fact that the IRA didn’t do it.

    I don’t know if they did or not. I’m just asking that those who are making the claims base them on something other than the assertions of the CC and the PD.

    it is dishonest to say that circumstantial evidence is worthless, it is often more than enough, even in a court of law

    But not in this case or we would be in a court of law.

  • Ringo

    Henry,

    I don’t know if they did or not. I’m just asking that those who are making the claims base them on something other than the assertions of the CC and the PD.

    Why do you want people to dismiss the opinions of the man with ultimate responsibility for investigating the robbery in Northern Ireland and the man who is furnished with the top level Garda intelligence briefs in the Republic? Oh, and the Taoiseach. Yet you say you’re keeping an open mind on the subject? Sounds like you’re letting your personal prejudices cloud your judgement.

    Would you rather we relied on Martin McGuinness’s story of having asked the IRA man and been told that they didn’t do it?

  • Henry94

    Ringo

    Why do you want people to dismiss the opinions of the man with ultimate responsibility for investigating the robbery in Northern Ireland and the man who is furnished with the top level Garda intelligence briefs in the Republic?

    Because it’s not enough. The Intelligence Services who provide these guys with their information have a poor record. I remember the dramatic raids at Stormont and the even more dramatic claims that followed. But what came of it? What was produced in court? Nothing.

    If the people who are briefing Orde are the same “security sources” who are briefing journalists every day of the week then they have an agenda. I don’t believe them. They will have to prove it.

    Need I mention WMDs?

    Would you rather we relied on Martin McGuinness’s story of having asked the IRA man and been told that they didn’t do it?

    I believe Martin McGuiness when he says he did not know about the robbery. But I can’t prove it.

  • Cahal
  • Ringo

    Henry

    I don’t believe them.
    But this is just your prejudices coming to the fore. You haven’t a shred of evidence to suggest that they are lying about who was responsible.

    Intelligence Services who provide these guys with their information have a poor record.

    Please enlighten me as to the poor record the Garda and Army intelligence has in recent years regarding the republican activities in the Republic. Surely you acknowledge the excellent job they have done against the RIRA? And more to the point, they didn’t do too bad in finding £2.3m in a bin out the country, or €90k in a daz box in Heuston.

    I believe Martin McGuiness when he says he did not know about the robbery. But I can’t prove it.

    Thats not what I asked. And for what it is worth I am not sure he knew either. Unlike the IRA robbing the bank, there is little in the public domain to sway me one way or the other.

    And BTW, why would there be any doubt in your mind about what Martin knew, if you believed the IRA didn’t do it? Rare slip-up there Henry!!

  • S**inter

    Mick, thank you for that.

    I don’t know, nor do I partucularly care, who robbed the Northern Bank.

    What I do know is that the only money recovered with a forensic link to the robbery was found at the PSNI sports club.

    With regard to the “conspiracy theories” mooted above I think it’s worth noting that no one, at any stage, has confirmed that the hostage takers spoke with NI accents, no one – fact!

    Why is no one questioning the origin of the mysterious white van? Why was no further footage / stills of same ever released? (surely the PSNI know by now whether their footage is of any use to them without input from or an appeal to joe public beyond a freeze frame still from Gt Victoria Street). Where is that van (or the remnants thereof) now?

    McDowell assured us in February that he could connect the notes to the raid. It’s September….what sort of forensics are they using?

    Of the monies recovered (“Northern” notes as opposed to “Northern BANK notes”) none have been linked to the Northern Bank “job”.

    Interestingly a well known West Belfast family whose distaste for the provisional movement is both well known and historically well documentd have, since February, been noticably frugal with their expenditure and reticent in their acquisitions.

    Perhaps it’s a bit hard for the Minister to acknowledge that the “Northern notes” which his gallant officers recovered might actually have belonged to a family more voiciferous in their condemnation of the IRA than even he.

  • SlugFest

    S**inter,

    “Interestingly a well known West Belfast family whose distaste for the provisional movement is both well known and historically well documentd have, since February, been noticably frugal with their expenditure and reticent in their acquisitions.”

    Any chance you can provide more clues as to what family you’re alluding to?

  • S*uinter

    I’m being mindful of “playing the ball, not the family” here.

  • SlugFest

    S**uinter,

    Fair enough. But let me ask you this: how can you, as an outside observer (assuming you’re not living in their attic) be all that familiar with said family’s expenses?

    … unless, of course, they’ve just recently had a new addition to the family (? 🙂 ) , in which case i’d assume that they would have to cut down on frivolous expenses.

  • bigwhitedove

    Cahal,
    thanks for the link, the most entertaining piece of TV in a while and worthy of its own thread,
    I note that when asked to condemn the recent violence Diane, in keeping with all Unionists,is saying that all violence is wrong but not specifically condemning it ala SF late 1980s & early 1990s !!! I would not like her to be teaching me
    “The PSNI is now a catholic police force” the most telling comment of the night by a loyalist participant LMAO,
    Definatley more of a show than the Big Heist which was piss poor journalism that added nothing to the mystery surrounding the bank job,

  • S*uinter

    “how can you, as an outside observer (assuming you’re not living in their attic) be all that familiar with said family’s expenses?”

    Because I, like any outside observer, can view their (various) company accounts at Companies Registry in Belfast.

  • SlugFest

    S**uinter,

    I stand corrected … and humbled.

  • S*uinter

    Slugfest, sorry if that came across as “oneupmanship” – genuinely not my intention.

  • SlugFest

    S*uinter,

    Not at all, not at all!

  • CelticTiger

    S*uinter, could you maybe be a bit less cryptic about the W. Belfast family for those of us living outside the city? What kind of businesses are they into (without giving too much away, of course)?

  • Henry94

    Ringo

    But this is just your prejudices coming to the fore. You haven’t a shred of evidence to suggest that they are lying about who was responsible.

    I have no doubt that my prejudices play a part in who I believe and who I don’t. That’s true of everyone and that is why we proceed on the basis of evidence. That’s my whole point.

    And BTW, why would there be any doubt in your mind about what Martin knew, if you believed the IRA didn’t do it? Rare slip-up there Henry!!

    Dream on. I was reiterating my point that belief is one thing and proof is another. I couldn’t prove that Ian Paisley didn’t know either. It is very difficult to prove a negative.

    And be clear. I don’t believe for a fact the IRA didn’t do it and it has never been my case that they didn’t. How the hell would I know?

    But it is for those accusing them to make their case and so far I’m unconvinced.

  • Lonely Pint

    S*uinter,
    this is most interesting. The point about the NI accents is something I’ve often wondered about, and the images captured of the white van from the high res security cameras is also intriguing.

    As to the West Belfast family, I’m from the Upper Whack but still the name of who this could be escapes me.