SF's Kelly condemns Northern Bank raid

Thursday 06 January 2005 22.08
Gerry Kelly - Believes IRA's denial
Gerry Kelly - Believes IRA's denial

A senior Sinn Féin representative has said he believes the £22 million Northern Bank robbery in Belfast just before Christmas was wrong.

Gerry Kelly, the party's justice spokesman, also said he believed the statement from a republican source that the IRA were not involved in the raid.

The Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, said he was not interested in what he called weasel words from the Sinn Féin leadership.

Mr McDowell said he would await the verdict of the PSNI, whose Chief Constable Hugh Orde is due to brief the Policing Board tomorrow.

Unionist politicians have been pressuring the Chief Constable to indicate if he believes the IRA was involved despite the organisation's denials.

Meanwhile, the British Prime Minister has said he will not prejudge the result of police inquiries into last month’s bank raid.

Tony Blair was responding to a question at a Downing Street news conference about suspected IRA involvement in the robbery.

Mr Blair is likely to meet with the North's party leaders within the next couple of weeks in an attempt to restore power-sharing.

However, those talks could come to a halt if Mr Orde points the finger of blame for the bank robbery at the Provisional IRA.