05 December 2005

Celtic club man describes raid on his home as 'nonsensical'


A well-known member of a leading West Belfast Celtic supporters club has hit out angrily at the PSNI after his Poleglass home was raided last Friday.

The search party told Aidan Digney of the Eire Go Brach CSC that the raid was connected to the Northern Bank investigation. But the club official said he believed the search of his home was “nonsensical”. He said it was designed to put pressure on Chris Ward, the Northern Bank employee caught up in the robbery who has been held by the PSNI now for almost a week. Mr Ward is also a member of the Eire Go Brach club.

Mr Digney told the Andersonstown News yesterday that the PSNI officers who conducted the raid made only a cursory search of his Glenkeen home, taking two computers, one of which belongs to his 12-year-old son, and some club documents. He said that the house was left “virtually untouched” by the PSNI and added that he believed that the PSNI wanted to be able to tell Mr Ward that they were raiding colleagues’ homes in order to put him under psychological pressure.

One of West Belfast’s best known Glasgow Celtic supporters has described a police raid on his home as “nonsensical".

PSNI officers in six Land Rovers arrived at Aidan Digney's Glenkeen home at 6am on Friday morning with a warrant to search his house for information relating to the Northern Bank robbery.

Speaking to the Andersonstown News directly after the raid, a bemused Mr Digney said there was “no rhyme or reason" for the early morning visit.
“They told me they were here in relation to the robbery and asked whether I had any money or walkie-talkies in the house that they should know about. I told them that I hadn't and they put myself, my wife and kids into the kitchen whilst they carried out the search."

Mr Digney is a member of Eire go Brach CSC – the same Celtic supporters’ club as Northern Bank employee Chris Ward, who is currently being held for questioning about the robbery.

“I think this raid on my home was a tactical move for the PSNI to look like they're doing something. Also, it may be an attempt to put pressure on Chris, a sort of mental torture. You know, if they go in there and tell Chris they're raiding the homes of everyone in the [Eire Go Brach] club, they think he'll say something, but he won't because he knows nothing about the robbery. This is nothing more than psychological torture.

“I think that if they were really looking for something, they would've ripped up the floorboards and pulled out the fireplace but they left the place virtually untouched."

Mr Digney said the raid suggests that the PSNI are currently “grasping at straws" as they try to find the gang behind last December's heist.

“This is beyond ridiculous, it's futile," he said. “Are they really going to target everyone that knows Chris either through the club or through work?
“This investigation is 50 weeks ongoing. I would imagine that if anyone had anything relating to the Northern Bank robbery, it would be well gone by now. This raid makes a pitiful joke out of the investigation."

West Belfast MLA Michael Ferguson said the raid was reminiscent of the interrogations of the 1970s.

“This is symptomatic of the Castlereagh interrogations that took place in the depths of the Troubles. This raid is designed to put immoral pressure on Chris Ward and criminalise this young man who has always maintained his innocence."

The PSNI took two computers from the Digney home, one of which belongs to his 12-year-old son, and some documentation relating to the Eire go Brach Celtic Supporters Club.

The PSNI declined to comment but confirmed that they had carried out searches in the Castlereagh and Dunmurry areas in connection with the ongoing investigation into the Northern Bank robbery and that a number of items were seized.

Local Sinn Féin MLA Michael Ferguson, who’s pictured right outside Mr Digney’s home, said he also believed that the raid was aimed at piling the pressure on Mr Ward, who’s entering his seventh day in custody. On Saturday the PSNI were given permission to hold him for another 60 hours.

Journalist:: Francesca Ryan

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