The IRA’s criminal investment programme

At the time of the Northern Bank robbery, we re-iterated over and over that this story will continue to muddy the political waters for years to come. Although the IRA has denied being involved the tide of evidence appears to moving in the opposite direction. As Pete noted yesterday, the two governments yesterday (including Justice Minister McDowell) were at pains to stress that no criminal activities were now being organised centrally by the IRA. But Conor Lally reports this morning (subs needed) that “the IRA intended to use the proceeds of the £26.5 million Northern Bank robbery to buy a £15 million apartment block in Bulgaria and a quarry in the midlands for between €3 million and €4 million”.

The investigation into the Cork laundering operation has now resulted in the Criminal Assets Bureau becoming involved in two of its biggest investigations.

One of these involves five key individuals who are believed to be the main players in a business empire in Leinster that was to be centrally involved in laundering the Northern Bank money. These targets, through pubs and hotels, have also played key roles in the financing of the IRA’s terrorist campaign for almost 20 years.

They raised seed funding through Revenue offences in Britain in the 1980s which was transferred to Ireland via the Isle of Man. It was then used by the IRA to buy pubs in the Republic.

The investigation into these men is described as “massive” by Garda sources. Gardaí have visited Britain, the Isle of Man and Bulgaria trawling through financial records in an effort to piece together the IRA money trail.

One of the five was central to devising the pub investment and money-laundering scheme for the IRA 15 to 20 years ago and is believed to have been the organisation “chief financial strategist”. Another has run some of the IRA’s pubs in Dublin. All five have built considerable property-based personal wealth. It believes that some of these men were leaving IRA-owned pubs weekly with bags of cash takings.

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  • pop

    ‘we re-iterated over and over that this story will continue to muddy the political waters for years to come. Although the IRA has denied being involved the tide of evidence appears to’

    If by we you mean you and by evidence you mean speculation I suppose your entry is correct.

  • Rubicon

    Mick – I think “Subs needed” is required after that last link. I’ll have to wait to read Lally’s report till I browse the IT later over lunch.

    The potential of dirty money to muddy the political waters is there more by political intent to delay power-sharing or by political incompetence. Commentators concerned about this issue need to focus on the work of the ARA not the political process.

  • Nevin

    [i]The CAB investigation has targeted five individuals suspected of playing a major role in setting up the financial empire, and a fully trained top team is working full-time on unearthing their alleged financial irregularities.

    More than a hundred boxes of documents are currently lying in the Cab’s headquarters in Dublin arising from seizures in the course of the investigation.

    A vital question for the investigators to solve is how many of the avenues of inquiry they are pursuing will lead to legitimate business transactions and how many will end up at the door of the Provisionals.[/i] [reg. needed – free]

  • Slugger O’Toole Admin

    Sorry Rubicon, you are right. I mistakenly read it as a front page story. I’ll add a little more detail.

    Pop, if you are going to repeatedly troll this site, can you try to keep your aliases to a minimum?

    I welcome robust criticism. But constantly changing your own nom de guerre suggests (rightly or wrongly) that you are not very keen on it yourself.

  • GrassyNoel

    Er lads, there’s this thing called the Criminal Justice system, right, and you see there’s another thing called due process….

  • seabhac siulach

    …the report of this comes from ‘garda sources’…enough said…

    So, tell me, if Unionists did not believe Garda claims when they said that all Provo IRA arms were decommissioned (in support of findings of the international decommissioning body)…then to be consistent, not that I would ever doubt such a thing, Unionists must now also disbelieve any reports ‘leaked’, not officially reported mind, from the same Gardai…
    Anything else would surely be, dare I say it, hypocrisy…

    As to this claim, it is surprisingly (suspiciously) well timed to coincide with the report of Hain’s yesterday that the Provos had ended ‘criminality’…it wouldn’t be a crude attempt to continue to link the Provos and therefore Sinn Fein to criminality, would it? Or am I becoming too cynical in my old age…
    As I have said many time, if there is evidence let it be presented and judged in a courtroom (the only forum where the guilt of an individual or organisation can be judged, not in the lines of a newspaper, lest we forget). Despite desperate efforts from the Gardai and claims that forensic tests would soon show the burnt Cork money came from Belfast, no such evidence has ever been released and no one related to the Provos has even been charged in relation to this case…
    The whole story, though, a useful stick to continue beating Sinn Fein with, in the hope of scaring off potential middle class voters in Dublin, particularly…so it will not be allowed to die yet…

  • Henry94

    There is still nothing much in the way of evidence is there. Far from a tide there is nothing other than a trickle of leaks. The police only ever leak when they have nothing else.

    The robbery has no serious political implications. It will do as an excuse if people are running out but if it wasn’t that it would be something else.

  • Padraig Óg

    Still no evidence about the Northern bank raid!

    Where’s the evidence? Seriously where is the hard evidence?

    There isn’t any so move along..nothing to see here

  • Daisy

    Is it a slow news day or are elections coming up soon?

    The article reads to me as nothing more than a few ideas jotted down on paper to see how seriously it will be taken.

    However, if it is indeed accurate, I’m sure the full force of the law on these unnamed persons.

  • mickhall

    I have concluded if slugger is unable to post up the article then they should not include it on the site. Subs needed is a cop out as it makes it an impossibility for most of us to make any judgement on the pieces content.

    To mention muddying the waters then to fail to post up a link or the content of the article reeks to be of hypocrisy.

    I can see the posting of this piece on slugger as nothing more than an attempt to muddy the waters as the cut off date to the assembly government approaches. Not slugger at it best.

  • Pete Baker

    Mick

    I’d suggest that the article relates to the possibility of charges arising from the final report from Operation Phoenix, the investigation into money-laundering, mentioned in this post previously, a report which should be with the DPP in the Republic… and how that may contrast with the Taoiseach’s declaration that:

    On criminality I’m glad to report there is no link whatsoever that we have traced in a long, long, long way back of IRA involvement in criminality of any kind in the Republic of Ireland.

  • Oilbhear Chromaill

    These reports contain no new information – or disinformation above the sensationalist material advanced – and debunked earlier this year – by the likes of the Channel 4 Dispatches programme.

    It’s interesting that this disinformation emerges now as the two governments are publicly stating that the IRA is no longer involved in ‘criminality’ – if it ever was. Perhaps that’s too much for the Gardaí – feeling the pinch perhaps after the publication of the Barr Report and the Morris Tribunal. And there’s no doubt that the PSNI – the force which feels it’s ok to lock up Irish people for speaking Irish in Ireland – wouldn’t be too happy either.

    It’s also interesting that this disinformation is unsourced to any particular agency or briefing event and virtually the same report appears in both the Irish Indo and the Irish Times. Co-ordinated disinformation?

  • Mick Fealty

    With respect Mick, this is nonsense.

    “I have concluded if slugger is unable to post up the article then they should not include it on the site. Subs needed is a cop out as it makes it an impossibility for most of us to make any judgement on the pieces content”.

    I’m not a fan of subscription sites myself, not least because there is always an onus on me to the gist of the content right. Indeed I have said that I mistakenly thought it was front page story when I posted it.

    But in asking for sub locked websites to be screened out, you are asking for a subtle form of self imposed censorship, which I am not prepared to accept.

  • Mick Fealty

    OC, it could be. But I was struck by the contrast between the Minister’s public words on RTE and then this this morning.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Mick Fealty: “OC, it could be. But I was struck by the contrast between the Minister’s public words on RTE and then this this morning. ”

    All sizzle, no steak, Mick.

    First of all, there is the time differential — now v. 18 months ago, all possible, even without the IRA’s involvement in the bank heist.

    Second, note the word “believed,” as used in the article. Its a nice word for papering over shaky source material — sounds impressive without saying anything.

    They can “believe” its the IRA all they want, just as any six year old can “believe” its the tooth fairy want put the money under their pillow or the Easter Bunny want bring colored eggs and candies.

  • fair_deal

    SS

    “if Unionists did not believe Garda claims when they said that all Provo IRA arms were decommissioned (in support of findings of the international decommissioning body)”

    1. The IMC disagrees with the Garda and IICD opinion.
    2. From the intelligence it would appear the weaponry is in Northern Ireland and thus outside the scope of the Garda intelligence network. Unless you are suggesting the Garda are breaching the basis of policing co-operation and running agents in NI?
    3. Both the IRA and IICD have a nice get out phrase of “under their control”
    4. No organisation is a model of perfection, so it is entirely possible to be right on some occassions and wrong on others. The key to success is working it out

  • lib2016

    Like the other posters I’m interested to see that unsubstantiated smears appear to be accorded the same gravitas as the clear statements of two sovereign governments.

    If there is any substance to these reports surely it’s imperative that we should be given more information about their source?

  • Brian Boru

    “1.The IMC disagrees with the Garda and IICD opinion.”

    2 against 1. MI5 are alleged to have been the source and given allegations of secret-service involvement in the Dublin-Monaghan bombings I am extremely dubious of their contributions to this.

    “2. From the intelligence it would appear the weaponry is in Northern Ireland and thus outside the scope of the Garda intelligence network. Unless you are suggesting the Garda are breaching the basis of policing co-operation and running agents in NI?”

    So much for the traditional Unionist diabtribe about the South being an IRA base. Changed your tune now haven’t you?

    “3. Both the IRA and IICD have a nice get out phrase of “under their control”

    Still waiting for the UDA and UVF to decommission a single ounce of semtex or a single bullet.

    “4. No organisation is a model of perfection, so it is entirely possible to be right on some occassions and wrong on others. The key to success is working it out”

    By that standard you would never believe anyone because “no organisation is a model of perfection”.

  • Henry94

    In fact it is a sign of how unimportant the bank robbery is that today is the fist time in months that any of us have thought about it one way or the other.

  • fair_deal

    SS

    “2 against 1”

    1. Majority decision-making, interesting.
    2. The IICD does not have any intelligence of its own, it simply took the PIRA’s word for it.

    “MI5 are alleged to have been the source and given allegations of secret-service involvement in the Dublin-Monaghan bombings”

    So you are allowed to question the validity of an organisation’s information and I am not. Hmmmm.

    “the South being an IRA base. Changed your tune now haven’t you?”

    1. It was and your point is?
    2. The IRA operated and stored weaponry in various countries throughout its history – UK, Republic of Ireland, various european countries. I thought everyone knew that but apparently not.

    “Still waiting for the UDA and UVF to decommission a single ounce of semtex or a single bullet.”

    Yep we are. What has their to date total failure got to do with the IRA’s partial failure? Are you trying to make their inaction a justification for some arms being held onto?

  • Dread Cthulhu

    fair_deal: “What has their to date total failure got to do with the IRA’s partial failure? Are you trying to make their inaction a justification for some arms being held onto? ”

    As opposed to you trying to move the goalposts ever further toward the horizon?

  • na

    Did the IRA steal the ‘Open Thread’ while Mick’s back was turned? What happened?

  • Rubicon

    Fair Deal – you’re getting too easy a ride – the expression of the expected vested interests is only a part of where this process is going. The DUP will face some hard questioning in the months ahead.

    The DUP have to make clear what “criminality” means. It is the unionist strategy (previously led by Trimble) that places these obstacles in the way of political progress. Can you explain why and what it achieves? Or – put another way – why you don’t focus on empowering the criminal justice system to deal with implementing its remit.

    Until I get that explanation I’m going to view DUP complaints with a degree of political scepticism; there’s nothing quite as effective in undermining a remit as usurping it.

    If the DUP don’t believe in the criminal justice system they should say so. If they do believe in it they should be helping it work and letting it sort out who robbed the Northern Bank.

    What’s the hurry to ‘prove’ SF involvement in the robbery? Has the DUP ‘commitment’ to justice dispensed with the system and the need for evidence?

    On this basis the DUP will soon be supporting loyalist restorative justice schemes, sidling up with armed and active terrorists while screaming that not enough “justice” is in their hands.

    Damn! They’re there already! (and have been for years). I just read Purvis and the UVF guard Paisley had. Those were legally held weapons? Have they been handed in? Will/have they been used? I could go on … and on ….

    When Paisley finally does sit down to discuss the real issues – will it be OK for nationalists to ask his bodyguards leave?

    Guns and Government – they don’t mix you know! (or so we’re told). Is it too much to ask that the DUP acknowledge that they have used illegal weaponry in the past? Is it too much for them to accept that their weaponry is still out there while the IRA’s is probably not? Is the issue of a few unused guns remaining among nationalists (compared to the arsenal still being used by loyalists) going to be trumpeted as the reason to stop power-sharing?

    If so, I think Paisley has under estimated unionists – and I don’t think he has.

  • Pete Baker

    “I just read Purvis and the UVF guard Paisley had.”

    Rubicon

    I’d suggest the Chair of the PUP, and Policing Board member, might have other motives for raising the issue of the UVF/PUP/UUP at this particular point.. I was, for instance, interested in her acknowledgement that she had been [regularly?] speaking to the leadership of the UVF…

  • Mick Fealty

    (na, just had to clean it up a little – keep the lawyers at bay… liked the Ali G clip though!! we must do it again)

    Re the robbery, whilst I think people are perfectly right to retain their scepticism about the motives of governments and agencies, there is plenty of reason to remain suspicious of the movement’s own strident denials.

  • At Least

    “All five have built considerable property-based personal wealth. It believes that some of these men were leaving IRA-owned pubs weekly with bags of cash takings.”

    At least jimmy sands didnt die for nothing.

  • nationalist

    there is no doubt that the ira stole the money from the bank …they have to get funding from somewhere…and what about loyalists gettin paid off to give up their weapons? that money will expand the loyalist empire