Thursday, April 21, 2005

Stealing money in the north of Ireland

Brian Feeney:

Just over a week ago a well-organised gang relieved a Brinks van of a sum more than £1 million.

We don't know exactly how much. It could have been a lot more than a million but it certainly wasn't less. Perhaps Brinks don't know either, or perhaps the police are trying to confuse the robbers or make them count it themselves.

The UDA did it of course.

How do we know? Apply the exact mirror image of the official reasons given for pointing the finger at the IRA for the Northern Bank job and there's no other conclusion you can reach.

There would need to be a lot of men involved, all of whom kept stumm before and after – men to take the hostage; to hold the hostage for eight hours; to drive cars both to and from Creighton's garage and Annadale; men to keep look-out, never mind stashing the loot.

The hostage was taken from a loyalist area, Belvoir, and held near a UDA stronghold, Annadale.

You can't say the UDA's fingerprints were all over this robbery, because the UDA knows just as well as the IRA not to leave any fingerprints, or any other material either that could provide forensic evidence.

There the similarities with the IRA's Northern Bank heist end.

There were no police raids on loyalist districts, no futile, provocative searches of the homes of senior UDA figures.

Can we perhaps anticipate police teams digging up fields around Groomsport or dredging duck ponds near Kircubbin?

Any chance of a press conference by the chief constable to tell us who he's pointing the finger at?

Of course not.

None of that.

Not even, it seems, evidence of the strangely nebulous mobile phone traffic available with the Northern robbery. Why the difference in response from the authorities?

Okay, the Northern job was 20 times bigger than the Brinks job – so we're led to believe anyway.

So is that why?

You're allowed to steal, say, £1.2 million, without drawing down the wrath of both governments and the police, but not £26 million.

Well, would you be allowed £10 million? What's the cut-off point? It's important to know for future reference you see.

Would £7 million be the tipping point?

Paramilitary gangs would naturally be anxious to know so that they don't place their entire organisations in jeopardy by being too successful, or, in colloquial terms, 'tearing the backside out of it'.

There may be other reasons for the furious political and security reaction to the IRA robbery and the absence of response to the UDA one.

First, the UDA have no votes. Not even their own members voted for their candidates when they stood for the now defunct UDP party. Therefore there are no political consequences, whereas with republicans their electoral support gives them a right to be ministers in any northern administration.

Perhaps more important, however, is that to acknowledge the robbery was the work of the UDA is to admit that all the cosy chats NIO officials and our proconsul have had with their favourite illegal organisation's inner council don't amount to a hill of beans.

That the robbery took place in the fiefdom of Jackie McDonald, the occasional golfing partner of Martin McAleese – the president's husband – is the cruellest cut of all. After all, isn't Jackie McDonald supposed to represent the future of the UDA – cleaned up, not killing Catholics, committed to community work as they promised last November when they met our proconsul?

The robbery prompts a couple of obvious questions.

Either Jackie McDonald did know about the robbery or he didn't.

One of those propositions must be true.

If Jackie McDonald didn't know about what's going on in his own back yard, what use is he to the NIO?

If he did know about the robbery but was unable to stop it going ahead or didn't want to stop it, then he's leading the NIO up the garden path.

The true state of affairs is a matter of great importance, since the NIO seems determined to give the UDA – an illegal organisation remember – something around £50 million to redevelop the districts they have spent the last 35 years destroying. You couldn't make it up.

Interestingly, the same global news media that made such a fuss over the possibility of the IRA's involvement in the Northern Bank heist seems happy to ignore the possibility that the UDA was involved in the Brinks robbery.


Post a Comment

<< Home