09 March 2006

Top republican at centre of border raids

BBC

09/03/2006 - 10:03:34

A top republican was at the centre of a massive security operation linked to a major investigation into organised crime on both sides of the border today.

Gardai in north Co Louth and police in south Armagh were involved in a series of raids.

At one stage an area around the family home of Thomas “Slab” Murphy, 62, allegedly the IRA’s one-time chief of staff, was sealed off.

There were no immediate reports of any arrests, but one source in the North confirmed: “It doesn’t get any bigger than this.”

Another claimed that a top republican who has made millions from smuggling was the number-one target.

It is understood a British Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) probe into IRA links to the ownership of 250 properties worth an estimated £9m (€13.1m) in the Greater Manchester area was not involved in today’s planned operation.

Instead, it was coordinated by senior police officers on both sides of the border, backed up by Irish Army soldiers.

Up to 50 PSNI officers, as well as soldiers and two British Army helicopters, were involved on the Northern side, according to reports.

At the time of the ARA inquires in Manchester last October, Mr Murphy said he did not own any properties and insisted he made his living from farming.

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