The PSNI searched the home of a leading republican on Christmas Eve as part of its attempt to recover the £22m stolen from the Northern Bank headquarters in Belfast.

Eddie Copeland's house at Homedene Gardens in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast was searched by a forensic team who also carried out a search of his car and removed several items from his home.

Police also searched other commercial properties and homes in the north and west of Belfast.

Mr Copeland said police showed him a warrant which confirmed the raid was in connection with Monday's robbery.

He said he knew nothing about the robbery and could not understand why his home was raided.

Mr Copeland said the police took away 16 pairs of his shoes, mobile phones that were in the house, and he said detectives opened and searched presents under his Christmas tree.

Sinn Féin councillor Margaret McClenaghan said the raid on Mr Copeland's house was a disgrace. She said the police were only targeting republicans because they had not managed to make a breakthrough in the hunt for the robbers.

It is reported that police and Northern Bank have discussed the possibility of recalling every Northern Bank note to prevent the stolen money from being circulated.

The notes range from £5 to £100 denominations.

The Provisional IRA have denied any involvement in the robbery. The denial came after police refused to rule out paramilitary involvement in the heist.