Two men have been charged in connection with an investigation into money laundering and subversive activity.

The arrests come following a three year garda investigation dubbed Operation Phoenix.

The investigation was set up after the theft of £26.5m from the Northern Bank cash depot at Donegall Place in Belfast on 20 December 2004.

It has been one of the most intensive investigations ever conducted in Ireland. Led by detectives from Cork, it also involved the Criminal Assets Bureau and the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation.

The investigation into money laundering and the activities of the Provisional IRA led to the seizure of more than €3.5m in sterling, euro and Northern Bank notes in February 2005.

On 16 and 17 February 2005, gardaí conducted a number of raids, first in Dublin, then in Cork and later in Kerry, Louth, Meath, Westmeath and Offaly, seizing substantial quantities of cash at these locations.

More than £2m was seized at a house at Farran, Co Cork, and £60,000 in Northern Bank notes were seized at Douglas in Cork city. Gardaí also seized thousands of documents and a number of computers.

This morning, more than three years into the investigation, detectives involved in Operation Phoenix arrested two men.

Timothy Cunningham, known as Ted, was arrested at his home at Woodbine Lodge at Farran, Co Cork, at 7.15am. The 59-year-old was taken to the Bridewell Garda Station in Cork city where he was charged with 10 offences.

The first of these alleges that Mr Cunningham was in possession of more than £3m, knowing or believing that it came from the Northern Bank robbery.

The other charges relate to the laundering of cash and property to the value of around £500,000 in sterling, and €250,000 in euro.

Mr Cunningham made no reply to the charges.

The second man charged is 50-year-old Don Blaney of Cnoc Abhainn, Old Church Road, Passage West, Co Cork. He replied 'definitely not guilty' when he was charged with possession of 220 rounds of live ammunition.

Bail applications for both men will be made this afternoon.