The DUP’s Jim Wells picked up on the conviction of a former Sinn Fein election worker for his part an attempt to extort £300,000 from an attempted blackmail of a Co Down businessman. Richard ‘Dickie’ O’Donnell was first charged back in October 2004, when the DUP were in negotiation with the British and Irish governments for what was known as a ‘comprehensive agreement’.
Update: As Pete points out the PA report goes much further:
After the original £300,000 demand was reduced to £100,000, witness A was instructed to go to a meeting in Castlewellan, Co. Down, and warned not to involve the police or face the consequences.
It was at this point that O`Donnell, of Old Course Road, Downpatrick, became involved. He arrived at witness A`s offices to take him to the rendezvous only to be told he wasn`t prepared to go.
But within days the defendant phoned him to set up an urgent meeting, insisting he was just a message boy for the IRA, the court was told. O`Donnell urged the blackmail victim to make a contribution to the paramilitary organisation in return for its protection.
From the Irish News on Monday (subs needed):
“Dickie O’Donnell is a well-known and well-respected republican”, the Sinn Fein councillor [Eamonn Mac Con Midhe] said at the time. “He is an ex-prisoner, which he has not tried to hide at all and I believe the truth will come out about these fabricated charges. Dickie worked with me on the assembly elections and local government elections and he is a solid Sinn Fein supporter. Republicans are against extortion and it is not in Dickie�s nature to do anything like this. This is clearly yet another attempt by securocrats to discredit republicans�”