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Last Updated: Sunday, 6 February, 2005, 18:46 GMT
Bank raid 'hurt political trust'
Archbishop Sean Brady
Archbishop Sean Brady said the challenge was to rebuild trust
The 26.5m Belfast bank robbery has severely damaged trust between political parties, the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland has warned.

The Archbishop of Armagh, Dr Sean Brady, made his comments while speaking on BBC Radio Ulster's Sunday Sequence.

"I believe that that robbery has done huge damage to the trust that was being built up, and perhaps that was the intention," he said.

"But my concern is to limit that damage for the sake of peace."

'Rebuild trust'

Dr Brady added: "The challenge is to rebuild the trust and to rebuild it more securely maybe than ever."

The IRA denies claims it was behind the 26.5m Belfast bank raid in December, and last week, it withdrew its offer of complete decommissioning.

Meanwhile, SDLP MP Eddie McGrady has accused Sinn Fein of thinking "that the provisions are above the law. That they don't have to live by the same rules as the rest of us and are entitled to do what they like."

He said Sinn Fein, like his own party, talked about equality, but "the difference is that we believe in it - Sinn Fein don't".

Gerry Adams
Gerry Adams said Sinn Fein wanted to defend the peace process

"They think that the basic laws of decency and morality must apply equally to all of us but don't apply to them," he said.

"The governments have to send the strong message that nobody is above the law. Not the police. Not loyalists. And not the IRA."

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams again blamed the two governments for the state of the political process.

Speaking on Sunday, he said their current stance had undermined "whatever positive role" his party had been able to play in the past.

"All I can say is that the resolve of our party, and hopefully this is matched by other parties, is to say no return to conflict," he said.

Mr Adams added that the current peace was "imperfect" but "better than what was there before".

'Seriousness'

Last week, the IRA issued two statements warning of the serious state of the political process.

The IRA's latest statement said: "The two governments are trying to play down the importance of our statement because they are making a mess of the peace process.

"Do not underestimate the seriousness of the situation."

Unionist politicians have described the statement as "sinister".

The Independent Monitoring Commission has presented its report on the robbery to the British and Irish governments.

The report is not expected to be published until next week.

It is thought it will concur with the police assessment that the IRA was to blame for the bank raid and to suggest sanctions against Sinn Fein.

On Saturday, Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell ruled out imposing any political sanctions against Sinn Fein.

"Anything that could assist them to characterise themselves as victims in a process where they are in fact causing all the major problems for themselves, is in our view counter-productive," he said.


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