Long war against criminality…

The report notes several times that ‘money is a strategic asset’ within the organisation. It strongly suggests that the leadership of the IRA is trying to stop criminal activity by trying to stop members from engaging in it, whilst accepting that some criminal activities are “deeply embedded in the culture of a number of communities”.

4.7 Money lies at the heart of much paramilitary criminal activity. It is a prime motive of the paramilitary criminals, whether for the benefit of the organisation, of themselves personally, or of both. It can be the instrument whereby they are able to function effectively. And it can serve as one of the most important ways of tracking them down and so of disrupting or preventing what they do. Over time organised criminals, including paramilitary ones in Ireland North and South, have developed more sophisticated means of protecting the assets they have secured, often over many years of criminality of one kind or another. In some cases paramilitaries have built up very substantial property portfolios, stretching further than is normally found with other organised crime groups and involving much more extensive networks of people.

These networks may, for example, include the legal owners of property the purchase of which was funded by assets originally obtained illegally and which these present owners undertake not to sell without the agreement of the organisation concerned. Such people are a source of continuing funding for the organisation, holding well laundered assets. The ability to act in this way depends
among other things on the employment of professionals, such as lawyers and accountants.

4.8 It is for this reason that we so strongly support the work of all the law enforcement agencies involved in investigating and recovering illegally gained assets and in investigating other associated offences such as money laundering. This includes the 31 police services and customs authorities North and South. Assets recovery is the focus of the work of the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) and of the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA). We believe that both have a key role to play in the continuing fight to confiscate assets originating from paramilitary organised crime, including that illegally obtained long ago. Strategically, their work is long-term, and individual cases can take a long while to bring to fruition because of the sophisticated methods paramilitaries use to launder the proceeds of crime and to hide the resulting assets; we note that this matter is one of those that both CAB and ARA are presently addressing.

4.9 We are therefore glad to note the continuing activities of CAB as well as the
increasing North-South co-operation in this area of law enforcement.

  • Rubicon

    Mick – while all of this is interesting (but I wonder why our press hasn’t managed to be as investigative) the IMC’s role is essentially political. It replaces the judicial process for the purpose of confidence building – or otherwise.

    Asset recovery is good to hear. I’m not sure we need the IMC for that. The CAB and ARA are surely capable of blowing their own trumpets.

    This IMC report has moved closer to “guilt by association” than any previous report. While the IMC is clear in distancing the IRA leadership from involvement – the association still remains.

    I wonder what role the IMC is now fulfilling. It is not a judicial body – not is it an alternate to the judicial process. Given their observations, is there a need to continue the IMC? The existence of unsanctioned criminality is hardly a good business case for continuance – but there is the unresolved Loyalist matter I suppose …


  • heck

    “deeply embedded in the culture of a number of communities”

    what this means to me is that fenians along the border are bad because they smuggle stuff. As if any border community anywhere in the world is different!! My mother can remember food being smuggled across the border during WW2.

    I think I must be the only one on this site who doesn’t get excited about smuggling. The claim by those who go ape shit over this issue is that it denies the government tax money which it would otherwise use to build hospitals and schools.

    And if they believe that crap then I have some weapons of mass destruction to show them.

    Honest Tony spends more in one day of his illegal war in Iraq that has been lost due to smuggling across the border during the whole existence of the Norn Iron state. Every euro smugglers deny honest Tony could be one less person he gets to kill in Iraq.

  • Brian Boru

    No-one said the GFA was supposed to mean the end of crime. Show me the society where crime does not exist. I’d really like to hear about it.

  • Donnacha

    Hah, down here at the ends of the earth (well, NZ anyway) we have no land border and there is STILL smuggling in the country. Granted a lot of it is illegal drugs, but I know a few lads making poitin and transporting it around the islands. I don’t think you can blame criminality on paramilitary organisations alone; it’s a human instinct.

  • Alan

    The problem with smuggling is that it produces an illegal profit that requires illegal systems to enhance and protect that profit – hence the development of criminal gangs and, you could argue, paramilitary groups interested in gaining from such illegal activity.

    Don’t laugh it off. These people are stealing from you and I, they are stealing from our children, from the sick and the disabled. Somehow, some of the people involved in this activity were welcomed into the republican fold and achieved significant stature ( if you know what I mean.).

    Clearly at some stage the IRA thought that using such revenue streams to buy weapons of individual distruction was more important than providing services for the rest of us. You’ll understand if I find that a puerile, garbled and morally reprehensible position to take.

    It is time that the republican movement made clear its moral and social condemnation of smuggling, money laundering and the existence of illegally financed front organisations.

  • Henry94

    Smuggling is a consequence of partition. If smuggler A retires smuggler B steps in.

    I would rather solve the problem than moralise on it and the way to do that is harmonize taxes so that there is no benefit to it.

    I’m sure Brian Cowen and Martin McGuiness will be discussing soon as finance ministers.

  • mnob

    Henry94, that point has been made a few times, but that’s like suggesting that if there were no children there would be no paedophiles. Both technically correct, but neither advancing any argument.

  • Henry94


    I don’t think you can argue that tax changes are as as impossible as abolishing children!

  • ingram

    Quote”I’m sure Brian Cowen and Martin McGuiness will be discussing soon as finance ministers

    I will lay you a very large bet.


  • heck

    smuggling seems to me to be a victimless crime with the only people lossing out being Honest Tony’s tax collectors.

    and as long as he is spending money waging war in the middle east that is not such a bad thing

  • Alan

    *smuggling seems to me to be a victimless crime with the only people lossing out being Honest Tony’s tax collectors. *

    Except for the small traders, of course, who go out of business or end up as criminals through having to take black market goods because legitimate trade is contaminated by smuggling.

    And the car owners whose engines are distroyed by rip off diesel without recompense.

    And the neighbourhoods which start to depend on black market ciggies and fuel but who aren’t provided with the legitimate jobs that they could have if the products were sold conventionally.

  • Paul

    Heck, if smuggling is “victim free” then so are all forms of tax dodging. Alan, you forgot to mention the serious environmental dangers posed by diesel washing, or the threats and acts of violence to protect the criminals’ profits. As regards cheap fags, I suppose as long as they are only killing off poor people who cares? Finally Heck, if Republicans think smuggling is OK then by what right would a SF minister insist that I pay income tax or VAT?
    The argument about the border creating smuggling is entirely fallacious. Criminals will always attempt to make money by duty avoidance, bordr or no border. Basically it reveals a contempt for society. The problem here is that we have a political party, with serious pretentions to power, that thinks this behaviour is acceptable.

  • Henry94


    The argument about the border creating smuggling is entirely fallacious

    You get no smuggling between Munster and Leinster. Of course it’s the border!

  • lib2016

    Am I really the only reprobate ‘sans cullotte’ who really isn’t too bothered about bankrobbers either?

    What happened to the great South Armagh tradition of rapparees like Redmond O Hanlon? Or the James Boys for our Scots-Irish friends? Or Dick Turpin and Robin Hood for any British ‘outlaws’ from the security services?

    Cheesh! The Pharisees are winning on this board, if nowhere else.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    heck: “smuggling seems to me to be a victimless crime with the only people lossing out being Honest Tony’s tax collectors. ”

    And it is — on the individual level. No one thinks “they” are a criminal for buying something off the “grey” or “black” markets.

    The problem comes in the aggregate — as a group, smuggling likely “costs” the government significant revenue.

    Alan: “And the car owners whose engines are distroyed by rip off diesel without recompense”

    Depending on where they bought their fuel, they have avenues. If they bought it off the black market — its a case of caveat emptor. The buyer assumes the risks. If bought from a legitimate dealer who is selling black-market stock, that’s a horse of a different color.

    The short form is that so long as there is a border and different schedules of tax on each side of the border, there will be smuggling, as inevitable as rain or night, so long as there is profit in it. Hell, even in the United States, with different state sales taxes, a form of this behavior occurs, at least on big ticket items.

  • heck

    Lets just say smuggling is a form of non-violent civil disobedience. It’s kind of like Rosa Parks refusing to obey the law and give up her seat to a white man. (Come on all you law and order parrots—say she was part of “criminality deeply embedded in the culture of a number of communities”.) She did it because she refused to recognize the segregation laws of Alabama, enacted by a democratically elected government following the will of the white majority. Similarly smuggling across a border you refuse to recognize is a similar form of civil disobedience.

    Don’t give me the crocodile tears about small businesses. It is the existence of the border and the different tax rates on either side that puts small businesses under pressure. How could someone run a petrol station within 20 miles of the northern side of the border. Anyone with an ounce of sense will buy their diesel on the southern side and drive back (smuggling a full tank!) and maybe buy their cigarettes and booze as well. The only way a small petrol station owner can stay in business in to have someone drive a tanker full of diesel from the south into the north.

    Nor do I want to hear this crap about “law and order” and the “rule of law”. A week or two ago there was a thread on this site about Ingram’s buddy, “Kevin Fulton”. Here is a guy who murdered people for the government, including one person in his front garden, in front of his family, and what was the reaction from unionist bloggers on this site—“what was in his contract?” Law and order –Bla bla bla. He practically confessed on TV—why wasn’t he arrested? Where was this “independent” prosecution service? Law and order my ass!! If you are concerned about Martin McGuiness not supporting VAT collection, what about you government you give allegiance to running death squads in Norn Iron and waging an illegal war in the middle east. Don’t you think that is a little bit more serious? I can even remember the SDLP supporting a rent and rates boycott.

    This is not about criminality, it is about uppity Fenians living along the border refusing to recognize an arbitrary line drawn on a map.


  • Mick Fealty


    “Lets just say smuggling is a form of non-violent civil disobedience”.

    That’s neat elision, but just because you say it doesn’t make it so. If it were so, we might expect overt political support. Martin McGuinness has been unequivocal in distancing himself from it (as quoted in the report).

    Rosa Parks cannot be said to have had the wider negative consequences that smuggling has.

    Certainly where there are borders, smuggling will always exist. No one here has demurred from that. But, just as in the hypothetical unregulated market place there are significant health and environmental risks to such activities.

    I doubt we’re likely to see your position being officially adopted by the party any time soon.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Also, heck, to play the other side of the coin, there is a world of difference between individuals going across the border to tank up their cars and the organizations that spring up to make smuggling an organized criminal endeavor.

    In the latter scenario, we have the corrosive impact of bribery, the inevitable corruption of police and political figures, the turf wars, etc.

    Individual purchasers doing business across the border may very well be non-violent protesters. The criminal organizations, almost without exception, aren’t.

  • heck

    I agree Mick, I can not see this position being adopted by any party any time soon-unfortunately. Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams seem to be focused on getting their hands on the levers of state power, almost to the exclusion of everything else.

    And I was taking a tennie weenie bit of artistic liberty. The idea that Tom Murphy (if the allegations against him are true) is some sort of latter day Rosa Parks is a little bit of a stretch.

    What is annoying me is this “law and order” chant from your unionist commentators and the “accepting that some criminal activities are “deeply embedded in the culture of a number of communities”. “ statement from the IMC. I can honestly say that this comment offended me. You can bet these individuals were not talking about the PSNI/UVF, or the British intelligence (sic) agencies, or the British Army, or the British government. What these guys were talking about are the nationalist communities in Northern Ireland, particularly along the border, I don’t think there is a problem with burglaries, car thefts, child molestations or racist attacks in South Armagh. What there is. is a culture of contempt for the Northern Ireland state, an attitude I share, so avoiding taxes, smuggling, and “doing the double” are not thought of as “criminal”.

    Similarly I think the unionist/media/British government definition of “law and order” is submission to the will of the state. It is not based on a definition of law that I would accept, that the law is to prevent the arbitrary use of state power against it citizens and to define the framework in which we all live.

    Think back to the thread on Kevin Fulton. I got so annoyed that I stopped commenting for a while. This guy was licensed to kill by the state and only a few seemed to get angry with this-yet they all accepted the fact. They get more agitated about some Crossmaglen farmer smuggling 20000 cigarettes from Dundalk. For Christ’s sake even Mick Hall, who I agree with most of the time, started asking Ingram about Fulton’s employment contract!!!

    The second thing that ticks me off is that some unelected body can say whether the people the people nationalists elect can represent them. It is the patronizing “If you are good fenians then we will let you have democracy” from Alderdice that is offensive. It is time this abortion that is the IMC was ended.

    And until the institutions of “the law” hold the state to account they will not get my support, irrespective of what SF do,

  • Paul

    Heck, you make a number of good points. Not all state revenue goes to the war in Iraq however. The biggest bills, I think, are for health, social security and education. If you think the state should fund these, and other, sevices (not everyone does)then any arguments you forward in defence of tax dodging (smuggling) are just hot air and special pleading.

  • heck

    Paul, In most cases I would agree with you, and you would probably agree that there is more tax dodging in the City of London that there is on the farms of South Armagh. However you must know that there is a large minority (46%) who do not accept the existence of the state and while they have disowned violence as a means of ending it they have not embraced it or its borders. Under such circumstances an acceptance of smuggling across a border they don’t recognize, and don’t want, should be a given and the patronizing statement for the IMC is just offensive.

    I any normal society, where the vast majority of people accepted the legitimacy of the state, paying taxes would be a civic duty. In Norn Iron my description of smuggling as non-violent act of civil disobedience is, I think, a good description.

    However I think I am correct in rejecting the calls of the law and order brigade. The solution to this is not to have some pompous, unelected, hacks handing down their opinion as to whether our elected representatives can do their job or not. Nor do I accept the bonafides of those who cry “criminality” and the call for the support of the “law and order” institutions of the state. They are pointing to the minor infraction of smuggling while ignoring the much greater level of criminality of the state. To me this is the same as asking an African American in Mississippi in the 1950’s to support his local sheriff and report to a white legal system black moon shiners who don’t pay their taxes .

    To me, on a sliding scale of criminality, the unionist law and order cure is worse than the smuggling disease.

  • Reader

    heck: However you must know that there is a large minority (46%) who do not accept the existence of the state and while they have disowned violence as a means of ending it they have not embraced it or its borders.
    So, should unionists live tax free in a United Ireland?

  • Alan

    *The solution to this is not to have some pompous, unelected, hacks handing down their opinion as to whether our elected representatives can do their job or not.*

    I can’t see that as a solution to anything.

    I’d put smuggling on the border, money laundering and fuel washing on the same level as rich business men wriggling out of paying taxes – which seems to be at the core of one party’s economic policy for the republic.

  • Paul

    What happens in South Armagh is duty avoidance rather than smuggling. Red diesel, for agricultural use and thus duty free, is bought, the dye removed and the diesel then sold at a huge profit because no duty is paid either to the UK or the ROI. This does not depend on cross border differentials. The reason it goes on in S. Armagh is because the criminals involved have carved out an enclave for themselves, by violence, murder and intimidation and unfortunately through political influence, where they can operate outside the law. The diesel is sold on both sides of the border.
    This notion of the gangsters involved being involved in a campaign of civil disobedience a la Rosa Parks is just taking the piss. The sludge left over after the red diesel is treated is highly toxic and a serious threat to the environment and local people. It is not disposed of safely, that would cost money. The environmental agencies are usually left to clear up the mess. Safe water supplies have been threatened by the total disregard shown by the criminals when they dump the sludge wherever is convenient for them. Their activity shows them not to be high minded patriots engaged in a campaign of civil disobedience but greedy, money grabbing, criminally irresponsible sociopaths.