Raids took place in Manchester and Dundalk

While Sinn Féin’s Conor Murphy defends the reputation of the multi-millionaire farmer from County Louth, the BBC name him, Thomas Murphy, as the UK’s richest smuggler on their Underworld Rich List – as running an oil and cigarette smuggling empire – and the Irish Times reports that, in addition to the Assets Recovery Agency raids in Manchester we noted yesterday, the Criminal Assets Bureau raided 7 properties in Dundalk

From the Irish Times report –

The North’s Assets Recovery Agency, with support from Manchester police and the Criminal Assets Bureau (Cab) in the South, assisted by gardaí, searched domestic and business premises respectively in Manchester and Dundalk.

Between four and five properties, including a leading Manchester property agency, were searched. A large amount of documentation was seized in the Manchester raids.

Cab raided the offices of seven premises, including legal and financial firms in Dundalk, Co Louth. Detectives took away around 50 boxes of documentation for examination, well-placed sources confirmed.

They also confirmed that the main focus of their inquiries is 56-year-old Thomas “Slab” Murphy, whom senior security sources have identified as IRA chief of staff, and a republican who has allegedly amassed a multi-million pound fortune through cross- border smuggling.

He lives near Hackballscross on a farm straddling the Border between counties Louth and Armagh, which reputedly has facilitated his smuggling operations that are believed to go back to the 1970s.

Meanwhile, as the Guardian also reports, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has attacked the timing of the raids –

“I don’t think it’s any accident and I am not surprised that this is trotted out today [before the Downing Street meeting]. This is obviously a political agenda.”

A point picked up on by today’s Irish Times editorial

It is clear following yesterday’s raids in Manchester and Dundalk that the Cab and the North’s Assets Recovery Agency are co-operating as closely and deeply as possible. This is to be applauded and must continue. Gerry Adams dismissed the operations, accusing Alan McQuillan, the head of the ARA, of being “anti-republican” and politically motivated. There is no evidence to support that accusation. However, it is possible to agree with Mr Adams, though to an extent that he will not appreciate. It is a political imperative that assets obtained illegally, whether by robbery, extortion and racketeering, or fraud and corruption, should be seized from those responsible.

It is an even more pressing political imperative that a movement which is seeking to obtain power throughout this island does not have access to such funds to bankroll its campaign. A still relatively small political party like Sinn Féin must not be allowed gain unfair advantage over other parties by having access to superior financing. That is both a political and democratic imperative.

  • myoad

    Isn’t Slab Conor’s uncle?

  • Joe

    The standard SF response from Conor Murphy in this type of situation – “no evidence” and attack the credibility/impartiality of those doing the investigations.

  • Zorro

    “This is obviously a political agenda.”

    Great political insight and an amazingly insightful reading of the story Gerry!

  • Harris

    Joe

    “The standard SF response from Conor Murphy in this type of situation – “no evidence” and attack the credibility/impartiality of those doing the investigations.”

    Joe, regarding Conor Murphy’s comment, He said: “I read the statement from the Assets Recovery Agency which is quite vague and bland and doesn’t refer to any republican at all, much less Mr Murphy.”

    “What we have is the Assets Recovery Agency issuing a statement about what they are doing and then an element or individuals within the Assets Recovery Agency who have a Special Branch background giving selective and private briefings to try and point the finger at different people,” he said.”

    The document speaks for itself, as Conor states, with no specific republican mentioned. How is this considered the “standard response?”

  • Jocky

    Harris,

    Who are the elements or individuals within the ARA (and presumably CAB) that have a special branch background?

    Has Connor Murphy researched this or is it mere speculation? everyone loves a good bogeyman.

    What exactly is a special branch background?

    Couldn’t it simply be journalist filling in the blanks? Times journalists perhaps?

    Are all organsiations that investigate Republicans to liase with SF prior to any actions to ensure no negative PR, cant search Monday as Gerry and Martin are in London/NY, etc?

    Does Mr Murpohy have any definite connection with SF? is he a party member or donor? Or are SF merely representing him as a constituent. Wonder if all their constitents get such good representation?

  • circles

    Thank God for this! For a whule there it looked as if unionists would actually have to do something in this whole peace process – a dance in which they have yet to take a step.
    Congrats ARA for getting our eyes all off the ball once more, and to the media for sticking this all on SF – great reporting guys, I thouhgt we’d never have a reason to forget the sword swinging orange men. I even thought that the actual daily lives of the people living in the north would become a topic for a while, and was preparing myself for a reality shock.
    In a way this whol hoo-haa reminds me of the Kate Moss “scandal” – even the headlines are as unimaginative as the “Kate Moss takes cocaine” ones. For Gods sake.
    If Mr Murphy is involved in all this then he should be investigated, scooped and answer for it. SF as a party have not been accused of anything, so lets get back to the match.

  • Chris Gaskin

    “Isn’t Slab Conor’s uncle?”

    No

  • Farmer Giles

    “…multi-millionaire farmer from County Louth…”

    Says a lot don’t you think!

  • victor1

    Jocky “Who are the elements or individuals within the ARA (and presumably CAB) that have a special branch background?”
    Lets start with thier team leader Alan McQuillan.