Stolen cash found in police club as Sinn Fein is tainted by IRA scandals

Armed robbery, money-laundering and murder have left the republican movement reeling and are threatening to engulf the Northern Irish peace process. David McKittrick reports

Fifty-thousand pounds of the haul from Belfast's multi-million-pound bank robbery have turned up in a city police sports and social club following a mysterious tip-off ­ yet another twist in a drama that has left Sinn Fein and the IRA in crisis.

Fifty-thousand pounds of the haul from Belfast's multi-million-pound bank robbery have turned up in a city police sports and social club following a mysterious tip-off ­ yet another twist in a drama that has left Sinn Fein and the IRA in crisis.

Five packages, each containing £10,000, were found on Friday in the club toilet. Yesterday it was confirmed that the cash had formed part of the £26m stolen from the Northern Bank in Belfast in December.

The sudden appearance of the money looked like a republican attempt to muddy the waters after a disastrous fortnight that has left the IRA and Sinn Fein mired in a crisis springing from criminality including armed robbery, money-laundering on a huge scale, and murder.

The organisations face months of continuing investigation into republican money-laundering as the Dublin authorities said they would not let up in their efforts to combat the IRA illegality.

Pressure on Sinn Fein is mounting, with Irish police saying the money-laundering investigation would take them into some of the most respectable areas of the financial sector north and south of the border and overseas.

The Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has warned that the peace process was in crisis but the party appeared isolated yesterday, stripped of much of its political credibility. Sanctions against it are expected to be announced in the Commons by the Northern Ireland Secretary, Paul Murphy, later this week.

This follows the judgements of the British and Irish governments that the IRA carried out the Northern Bank robbery. Sinn Fein may also face fines.

The search and seizure operations showed that Dublin is determined to go beyond political gestures in attempts to combat IRA illegalities. More than £2m was recovered at venues in County Cork, with a smaller amount seized in Dublin in swoops that involved more than a hundred police officers. Irish detectives believe the money found includes some of the proceeds of the Belfast robbery, but have yet to formally confirm this.

Police have indicated that following the republican money trail may lead to inquiries overseas and to apparently conventional areas of the financial sector. The general suspicion is that republican money has been stashed away in many places and has been used to buy pubs and clubs and other property. The IRA is regarded as expert at concealing its tracks.

Almost all of those arrested have been released, though one man has been charged with membership of the Real IRA. One of those questioned and released was Tom Hanlon, a former Sinn Fein councillor and unsuccessful candidate for the Irish parliament. He has appeared in photographs with Mr Adams.

On Friday Martin McGuinness of Sinn Fein said he had never met Mr Hanlon, but Irish television footage later showed the two men chatting at an election count in 2002, when Mr Hanlon stood for the Dail. The explanation given was that Mr McGuinness had met hundreds of candidates and could not be expected to remember them all.

Another of those released was a 57-year-old Cork-based company director and money-lender, Ted Cunningham. Police are continuing to examine £2.3m seized in a raid on Mr Cunningham's bungalow.

In a separate episode, the IRA in Belfast has been deeply embarrassed by the involvement of some of its members in a bar-room brawl which led to the fatal stabbing of a man.

Mr Adams strongly defended his party, seeking to politicise and personalise the activities of the authorities. He said the Irish justice minister Michael McDowell had reacted "with glee".

Claiming a smear campaign was being waged to discredit Sinn Fein, he added: "To listen to some of our political opponents, you would think that Sinn Fein as a party, Sinn Fein as an organisation, that those who vote for our party are criminals and we're not."

The Rev Ian Paisley Jnr, leader of the Democratic Unionist party said Mr Adams "was given a choice of leading Sinn Fein down a democratic path but he has decided crime pays."

Suggested Topics
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
i100
Sport
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
boxing
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments