Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness ‘knew about IRA’s £26m bank raid’


Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness knew the IRA was planning the biggest bank robbery in its history even as they held peace talks, leaked cables suggested last night.

The documents show officials in the Irish government believed there was ‘rock solid evidence’ the two Sinn Féin leaders knew of plans for the £26.5million Northern Bank raid six years ago.

In what was then the largest cash robbery ever in the UK, armed men made two bank officials hand over sacks stuffed with money by holding their families to ransom.

Leaders: the Irish Government believed Sinn Fein' s Martin McGuinness (left) and Gerry Adams knew about the record raid before it went ahead

Leaders: the Irish Government believed Sinn Fein' s Martin McGuinness (left) and Gerry Adams knew about the record raid before it went ahead

The WikiLeaks documents show that former prime minister Bertie Ahern, who was instrumental in drawing up the 1998 Good Friday agreement, believed the two Sinn Fein leaders must have known of the heist because they were members of the ‘IRA military command’ and had a thorough knowledge of its operations. 

The revelations about the extent of mustrust between the parties come as Mr Adams attempts to broaden Sinn Féin’s appeal in the Irish Republic.

The Sinn Féin president is abandoning his Westminster seat to stand in the Irish general election.

The latest documents show that unionist suspicions about the intentions of the republican movement rose after the IRA robbed the headquarters of Northern Bank in Belfast in December 2004.

And in a cable two months later, the U.S. ambassador to Ireland, James Kenny, reported that a senior Dublin official told the embassy of concerns about Mr Adams and Mr McGuinness. 

Appeal: A detective appeals for the public's support after the raid in Belfast, Northern Ireland

Appeal: A detective appeals for the public's support after the raid in Belfast, Northern Ireland

The cable claimed the Department of Justice chief told the ambassador ‘that the GOI [government of Ireland] does have rock-solid evidence that Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness are members of the IRA military command and for that reason, the taoiseach [prime minister] is certain they would have known in advance of the robbery.’

In another cable, Mr Kenny reported that Mr Ahern had raised his concerns with Mitchell Reiss, the U.S. envoy to Ireland.

The cable says: ‘The taoiseach believes Sinn Féin leaders were aware of plans to rob the Northern Bank even as they negotiated with him last fall.’

Nobody has been convicted of any offence in relation to the robbery, although the Cork-based financial adviser Ted Cunningham was found guilty last year of laundering more than £3million connected with it.

Mr Adams has denied being a member of the IRA while Mr McGuinness has admitted being a member in the 1970s.

A Sinn Féin spokesman said not a shred of evidence linked the IRA to the crime.

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