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 DundalkFrom 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.