02 December 2005

GAA raid 'linked to ?26m robbery'

BBC

An investigation at Gaelic Athletic Association grounds in west Belfast is understood to be linked to the £26m Northern Bank robbery.

The GAA expressed shock that the police were conducting an investigation at Casement Park.

It said it had no prior knowledge of the operation and was not given any reason for the inquiry.

A police spokesman said the operation was part of an investigation into serious crime.

The GAA said there had been an indication it related to allegations about an individual and alleged activities unrelated to the GAA.

The GAA said it had reported the matter to the Dublin government.

Earlier, a man was arrested by police investigating last December's robbery in Belfast.

The 50-year-old, from Carrickfergus, County Antrim, was arrested on Friday under the Terrorism Act, a police spokesperson said.

Northern Bank employee Chris Ward was arrested on Tuesday. On Thursday, police were given another three days to question him.

After the robbery, Mr Ward described how he was held captive in the raid.

He told the BBC's Spotlight programme how he and a male colleague were forced to facilitate the theft of millions of pounds from the cash centre of the Northern Bank's headquarters.

Prevented


A 22-year-old woman who was also arrested on Tuesday was released without charge a day later. Both people were arrested at different addresses.

Meanwhile, the lawyer for a man charged in connection with the robbery told the High Court in Belfast his client had been prevented from making a bail application.

The lawyer said the application, on behalf of Dominic James McEvoy, could not be made because the authorities were "withholding vital information".

Mr McEvoy, 23, from Kilcoo, County Down, was charged after his DNA was allegedly found at the Loughinisland home of a bank employee who had been held hostage.

He was remanded in custody until 9 December.

Earlier this month, police investigating the robbery arrested several people.

Of the 11 people questioned to date in connection with the robbery, three have appeared in court.

The robbery happened at the bank's Northern Ireland headquarters at Donegall Square West just before Christmas last year.

Some money seized in County Cork last February was linked to the robbery, but virtually all of the missing millions remain unrecovered.

The Chief Constable, Sir Hugh Orde, subsequently blamed the IRA for the raid.


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