Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Where is that van?

More questions about the robbery:

New questions are today being asked about the route the white van took following last month's £26.5m Northern Bank robbery after a question we asked the PSNI yesterday (Wednesday).

In the days after the heist that chief constable Huge Orde has blamed on the IRA the media was saturated with stories claiming the van made its escape via the Grosvenor Road.

Last week the PSNI issued a CCTV photo of the van in College Square East as it made its way to rob the bank for the first time.

We asked the PSNI: "Does the PSNI have any evidence that the white van involved in the Northern Bank robbery made its escape afterwards along the Grosvenor Road?"

Howard Street, which runs on to the Grosvenor Road, has a number of powerful CCTV cameras, as does the Grosvenor Road – there are two across the road from Grosvenor PSNI station which look straight into traffic driving in the direction of West Belfast.

Now the PSNI seems to be distancing itself from the perceived wisdom regarding the white van and the Grosvenor Road connection. In the early days after the robbery the Grosvenor Road statement was picked up by an acquiescent media as their cue from the cops that republicans carried out the heist.

Recent denials by both the IRA and Sinn Féin on the matter have been dismissed by the same media organisations. Nothing new there.

At the most recent PSNI news conference we were told that the white van crossed the border at five o'clock on the day of the robbery. We are not told how the cops know this – is there CCTV footage or maybe an eyewitness account?

The more days that go by, the more murky the whole business of the bank robbery becomes. You might think that lessons would be learned by all from Castlereagh and 'Stormontgate', but not a bit of it.

On Tuesday the PSNI said, "We don't know where the van went after it left the scene."

It might have been nice had they said that in the hours and days immediately following the robbery. But they will consider that a good job has been done.


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