The assets of a leading republican from south Armagh have been frozen by Northern Ireland's Serious Organised Crime Agency.

SOCA was granted a High Court order in Belfast to take control of bank accounts and properties belonging to Sean Gerard Hughes from Dromintee.

The agency claims the assets came from tax evasion, benefit fraud and the laundering of the proceeds of mortgage fraud.

The frozen assets include an apartment in Belfast, eight houses in south Armagh, the proceeds of the sales of three other houses and a number of bank accounts.

SOCA has also taken control of the assets of ten other people in the south Armagh area including five members of the extended Hughes family and Mr Hughes' wife, Annette.

In 2002, current DUP leader Peter Robinson used parliamentary privilege to link Mr Hughes to the Canary Wharf bombing in London in 1996, which killed two people and brought the previous IRA ceasefire to an end.

Mr Robinson also claimed that Mr Hughes was responsible for the murder of 12 soldiers at Warrenpoint, Co Down, a mortar bomb in Newry, Co Down, and the killing of Lord Chief Justice Maurice Gibson and his wife Cecily in 1987.

Mr Hughes has always denied he is a member of the IRA.

Meanwhile Sinn Féin MP for Newry and Armagh Conor Murphy has hit out at SOCA and criticised this morning’s raids.

Mr Murphy said said: 'Sean Hughes is a sound republican. He has spent his entire adult life engaged in the struggle for Irish unity and independence.

He added: 'The raids today on Sean's home and those of a number of his relatives have caused deep anger in South Armagh. There is no justification for the deliberate targeting of Sean and his family today.

'Sean has been charged with nothing. Neither have any members of his family. It is unacceptable.'