Page last updated at 16:41 GMT, Wednesday, 19 May 2010 17:41 UK

Cork man jailed for IRA membership

Northern Bank
The Northern Bank robbery took place in Belfast in December 2004

A former Sinn Fein councillor from Cork has been jailed for three years and three months for IRA membership.

Tom Hanlon, 43, was arrested in February 2005 by gardai on the trail of money stolen in the £26m Northern Bank robbery in Belfast two months earlier.

Hanlon, of Pembroke Road in Passage West, was sentenced at Dublin's non-jury Special Criminal Court.

He was a Sinn Fein councillor until 2004, and stood in the Republic's general election in 2002.

Mr Justice Paul Butler said on Wednesday the court was satisfied Hanlon was "intimately involved in highly-suspicious financial transactions involving monies which have been proved to have included proceeds from the bank robbery in Belfast".

However, the judge added Hanlon had not been charged with a money laundering offence and did not have the opportunity to defend himself against such an accusation in court.

'Confidential information'

The judge, presiding over the three-judge court which deals with terrorist and organised crime, said they accepted evidence given by Detective Chief Superintendent Tony Quilter that Hanlon was an IRA member on 16 February 2005.

He said this belief had been corroborated by Hanlon's failure to answer material questions during his questioning by gardai.

During the five-day trial, Detective Chief Superintendent Quilter said he believed on the basis of confidential information that Hanlon was an IRA member.

The trial heard that police searching Hanlon's bedroom found a Sinn Fein cheque book, photocopies of "joke" Northern Bank notes with images of Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, two cheques for the 'Colombia Three' campaign and other documents.

Prosecuting counsel Mr Tom O'Connell SC told the trial other searches in the Cork area in February 2005 uncovered £2.4m in seven bags in a locked cupboard in a house.

The house was owned by Ted Cunningham, a financial adviser who in 2009 became the only person to have been found guilty of an offence connected to the Northern Bank robbery.

Mr O'Connell said that DNA samples taken from Mr Hanlon matched DNA taken from the zip handle of one of the money bags.



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