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
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm actor was just 68
Arts and Entertainment
Preparations begin for Edinburgh Festival 2014
Edinburgh festivalAll the best shows to see at Edinburgh this year
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

(Senior) IT Support Engineer - 1st-3rd Line Support

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful IT service provider that has bee...

Wind Farm Civil Design Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principal Marine Mechanical Engineer

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principle Geotechnical Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices