IRA is 'trying to buy Bulgarian bank'

The IRA's money laundering empire is so vast that they have been negotiating to buy a bank in Bulgaria, it was reported yesterday.

The Provisionals have been working with a Bulgarian crime syndicate for the last year, trying to take control of a bank to be used to launder cash from their criminal operations, security sources said.

The banking operation would have lasted until 2007, when Bulgaria joins the EU, and would then become subject to stringent financial controls, the Irish Times reported.

Noel Conroy, the Garda commissioner, confirmed that his detectives had been working abroad. "It's a bit too early to go into details, but we will be following up in relation to matters overseas," he said.

The IRA's "colossal" money laundering business has unravelled after Irish security services spotted a Bulgarian arms dealer at a meeting in Ireland.

Yesterday, as detectives continued to follow his trail, a further £437,000 in cash was taken by Garda officers from several premises, bringing to almost £3 million the amount recovered from the £26 million Northern Bank robbery in Belfast in December.

Police believe the Bulgarian bank would have been used to launder the estimated £30 million a year the IRA receives from counterfeiting, robberies, extortion, racketeering and smuggling.

Using a scam the Italian mafia devised of buying banks in Latvia before it joined the EU last year, the IRA would have used the bank to provide it with paperwork and cash from a legitimate institution.

Mr Conroy said forensic tests were expected to confirm that the money seized in the Republic was connected to the Northern Bank robbery.

Standing next to Mr Conroy at a press conference in Hillsborough Castle, Hugh Orde, the Police Service of Northern Ireland's chief constable, announced a new protocol that would cement a new level of co-operation between the two forces. Officers from both sides of the border would work in each other's services.

The policemen were joined by Paul Murphy, the Northern Ireland Secretary, and Michael McDowell, the Irish justice minister, who was questioned about his claim that Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness were members of the IRA's "army council".

"I know of no person, of no person in this room, who does not share my views on the Provisional movement," he said. Asked why the Sinn Fein leaders had not been questioned or arrested, reporters were told that intelligence was not the same as evidence.

Mr McGuinness, Mr Adams and Martin Ferris, an MP for Kerry, issued a statement yesterday in which they categorically denied being members of the IRA leadership. The republicans suffered a further blow yesterday after five men from the Provisional IRA's Dublin Brigade were each jailed for four years for membership of an illegal organisation. They were arrested in Bray, Co Wicklow, in 2002 with items that included a Garda jacket and Sinn Fein campaign posters.

Paul Murphy, the Northern Ireland Secretary, will today propose that parliamentary allowances be removed from the four Sinn Fein MPs in a response to the International Monitoring Commission report into the bank raid.
Diversification anyone?



Sinn Fein's four MPs may be stripped of all Westminster allowances for a year as punishment for the Northern Bank heist, the Government has announced.

Secretary of State Paul Murphy revealed proposals are in place to suspend republicans' cash assistance as punishment for the £26.5 million robbery blamed on the IRA.

He also confirmed a ban on Sinn Fein's £120,000 Stormont Assembly grant for earlier IRA crime is to be extended for another 12 months.

The punishment, based on recommendations in a damning report by the Independent Monitoring Commission paramilitary watchdogs, was disclosed in the Commons.

Moves to halt Westminster allowances, which will be debated in the Commons, would see the party suffer a financial blow of up to £500,000.

Mr Murphy said: "I am conscious that honourable members on both sides of the House have raised concerns in the past about the payment of financial allowances to the four Sinn Fein members who decline to take up their seats here.

"I hope that the House will welcome the opportunity to debate, in the very near future, proposing these allowances be suspended on a timescale in parallel with the arrangements at Stormont, in recognition of recent events."
What i could never understand was why they were being paid an MP's salary and expenses when they blatantly refused to work as an MP in Westminster. Surely they should be told to feck off!


Moves to halt Westminster allowances, which will be debated in the Commons, would see the party suffer a financial blow of up to £500,000.

Whats £500,000 when they have £26 mil to play with. They should be taken round the back and double tapped :evil:
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