06 October 2005

Asset raids on 'IRA properties'


Thomas Murphy is widely considered to be head of the IRA

Properties worth £30m and thought to be linked to the IRA are being targeted by an asset recovery team in Manchester.

Searches have identified about 250 properties linked to two businessmen, which are being investigated by the Assets Recovery Agency (ASA).

It is thought to follow an inquiry into the business and financial affairs of Thomas "Slab" Murphy, who is widely considered to be the head of the IRA.

Police were also raiding at least two businesses in Greater Manchester.

Property groups

Greater Manchester Police confirmed they were raiding a property in Britannia Road, Sale, in connection with the ARA investigation.

The business property raided was Craven Properties and Craven Group with the name Dermot Craven on the door.

Police were also raiding a second business premises, Craven House on South Downs Road in Bowden, Greater Manchester.

The ARA searches were carried out on business and domestic premises and documents seized.

An ARA statement said: "The agency has so far identified approximately 250 properties held by both persons and a number of property management companies.

"The equity in the properties appears to be in the region of £9m."

Libel defeat

The raids followed a High Court application for search and seizure warrants.

Murphy lost a libel case against The Sunday Times in 1998, after the newspaper described him as a prominent IRA member.

The authorities on both sides of the border have been investigating him for years.

Murphy describes himself as a County Louth farmer. The family property is in an area straddling the border with the Irish Republic at Hackballscross.

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