Ex SF worker convicted of extortion…

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�”

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  • Pete Baker

    Mick

    PA report here

    But with O`Donnell`s defence claiming he acted only as a go-between, sentencing Judge Kevin Finnegan accepted he was not the racket`s lynchpin.

    “There`s a sense of frustration that the main players are not before the court,” the judge said.

  • seabhac siulach

    I think the relevant sentence in the piece is:

    “Sinn Féin has since said that O’Donnell was “not in Sinn Féin at the time of his arrest”.”

    So there it is…this is a non-story…a man is arrested for extortion…that is it…no political angle there…

    Sounds of scraping (the bottom of the barrel)

  • lib2016

    How very glad it makes one that no unionist or even ex-unionist has ever been found guilty of a crime. Otherwise, of course one would have to refuse to deal with them no matter what state the country was in.

  • Mick Fealty

    ss,

    You pays your money… That’s at least three angles we have now…

    – it happened long before the meltdown of the Northern Bank, when it is unlikely to have factored in the DUP’s Comprehensive Agreement.

    – this guy was small beer.

    – he wasn’t in the party when he was arrested.

    What we don’t yet know is whether he was in the party when it actually happened. Only if he wasn’t can we be certain that this story is indeed a chimera.

  • unionist

    but then again the sunday papers have been running stories covering the convictions of dup elected reps in the north of the province. at what level does criminality become a party issue

  • Pete Baker

    What’s not a chimera, Mick, is the attempted extortion.

    The details from the PA report are worth noting:

    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.

    Soon after he was stopped in his van and arrested in possession of the cash.

    Despite his defence claiming witness A was a cigarette smuggler dealing in contraband goods rather than a legitimate businessman, Judge Finnegan insisted this did not diminish the crime.

  • lib2016

    Pete,

    fair point – extortion is wrong and should be condemned wherever it comes from. I’m happy to do so.

  • Where is the guiding hand of the securocrats in all this?

  • lib2016

    It’ll be apparent soon enough if there’s a sudden increase in the number cases involving people who have been connected to Sinn Fein. Just as the rapid change in the fortunes of the various unionist power structures is apparent to those of us with eyes to see.

    Society here is changing fast and to deny that the British government has an interest in managing those changes would be foolish, don’t you agree?

  • martin

    fuckin eijit £300,000 wouldnt par for big Gerry,s spiral staircase in Donegal, or stock Marty,s lake with trout,

  • DK

    So… Sinn Fein man is convicted of aiding blackmail and it is all the fault of the “securocrats”. Did they use mind control?

  • SF say he wasn’t a member of SF at the time. He wasn’t a member of the DUP either. The Provos used to have a piece called THe Brigadier, written by the late John McGuffin. This used to detail all the crimes, big and small, done by the UDR. Is there a similar roll of honour for ex Sinn Fein members? I wonder how long it is. Seems a lot of ex Sinn Fein members get into crime. I wonder why that is.

  • Pete Baker

    DK

    The quote from the Sinn Fein councillor dates from the time of O’Donnell’s arrest – October 2004.

  • I’ve added a bit from the PA piece that Pete flagged up. That is where the damage is. That he was a ex member is less relevant than (presumably) recorded claims that he was doing it on behalf of a paramilitary grouping – which may or may not have been the IRA.

  • “Just a message boy for the IRA”. Yes, I can imagine the Provos putting up with freelancers masquerading as them for all of fifteen seconds…

  • seabhac siulach

    “I’ve added a bit from the PA piece that Pete flagged up. That is where the damage is. That he was a ex member is less relevant than (presumably) recorded claims that he was doing it on behalf of a paramilitary grouping – which may or may not have been the IRA.”

    This, however, is old news from 2004…pre-final decommissioning and the effective standing down of the (Provo) IRA, etc.
    A lot has changed since then.
    The IMC report in October/November should hopefully verify this even to the most stubborn observer…

    Playing games with this story (i.e., the DUP) to claim that Sinn Fein is involved in criminality (‘up to their neck’) is politically opportunistic and irresponsible at the moment. It does its job though…planting yet another seed in the publics mind that equates Sinn Fein with criminality, true or not, so making any future agreement all the harder to sell to the unionist grassroots. This lack of responsibility on the part of the DUP does not bode well for any agreement prior to Nov. 24th.

    Where is the conditioning of the unionist base for the hard choices they are faced with re sharing power with Sinn Fein?

  • Oliver Central
  • Hidden Gem

    seabhac siulach

    ..to claim that Sinn Fein is involved in criminality (’up to their neck’) is politically opportunistic and irresponsible at the moment

    ..but accurate, factual and true.

  • Keith M

    Further evidence of SF/IRA involvement in criminality, no chance to blame “dissident republicans” and not a squeek from Adams and McGuinness. How long can the charade of a band of criminals running key elements of the governing of Northern Ireland be maintained?

  • James H Reeves

    The sooner people return their vote to the moderate parties of thge SDLP / UUP, the sooner we will see progress.

    Wake up people!