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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 January, 2005, 12:45 GMT
Northern Ireland: Did they or didn't they?
Louise Duffy
Politics Show, Northern Ireland

The Northern Bank's headquarters at Donegall Square West, Belfast
£26.5m was stolen from the bank on 20 December 2004

Did they or didn't they? The Chief Constable could not have been any clearer in pinning the blame for the December, 2005, £26.5m, Northern Bank raid on the Provisional IRA.

So far, the kind of hard evidence admissible in court is lacking.

As Mr Orde gave his opinion, his officers had no one under arrest and no charges pending.

This has enabled republicans to repeat the IRA's denials of involvement and demand to see the police's proof.

Deja vu?

Hugh Orde
Hugh Orde pinned the blame on Provisional IRA

Unionists argue we have been here once, twice or many times before, citing the case of the Columbia Three and the murder of Gerry McCabe.

The IRA denied the killing of Garda McCabe while robbing a post office van in County Limerick in 1996.

Gerry Adams said, at the time: "The IRA has denied any involvement and I accept that," but that changed when IRA members were charged with the crime.

And in 2004, he and his party negotiated for the early release of McCabe's killers.

In September 2001 Gerry Adams told reporters that Niall Connolly was not a member of Sinn Fein but a number of weeks later apologised saying he had got it wrong and that Connolly had in fact been a party member.

But the police too have blamed the IRA in the past where the evidence has failed to live up to the charge.

Gerry Adams
Gerry Adams denied the Chief Constable's allegations

Sinn Fein fight back

So who is right this time round?

Most including the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern have sided with Hugh Orde's assessment but the Sinn Fein leadership is not taking this lying down.

Martin McGuinness, asked reporters this week: "What do you think I would be doing if someone told me that they intended to rob the Northern Bank?

"I can tell you that I would be a very disillusioned Irish republican if somebody said to me they were prepared to put a process that I have put my life and soul into, risked my very life for, and risked (it) for £10m or £20m or £30m.

"In my opinion it would not be worth it", Mr McGuinness said.

Politics Show

Jim Fitzpatrick
Jim Fitzpatrick presents Politics Show from Northern Ireland

Politics Show, in Northern Ireland looks back on the past language of denial and Jim Fitzpatrick and guests examine the consequences of this latest fallout on the peace process.

BBC One on Sunday, 16 January, 2005 at 12.30 and you get a chance to see the programme again that night, at 23.15 on BBC One.

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SEE ALSO:
Police 'could link IRA to raid'
07 Jan 05 |  Northern Ireland
Meet presenter Jim Fitzpatrick
02 Mar 03 |  Politics Show


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