The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Northern Bank - Open All Day Monday

Anthony McIntyre • 6 January 2005

Many like myself do not give a toss for the Northern Bank or its money. Poor bankers are as rare as straight politicians. A common attitude is that the cash stolen from the bank last month came from a broad back. Few in working class areas care if the fat cat financiers never see their lolly again. They also know that the poorer sections of Northern society will not be the beneficiaries of it either. If, as is being widely alleged, the robbery is the work of the Provisional IRA's army council, then it is a matter of the rich robbing the rich. None of the loot will find its way to the victims of the tsunami. The poor and unemployed of Ballymurphy and elsewhere will have to fund that out of their own meagre incomes.

Amongst those convinced that the Provisionals are the guilty party are some who are confidently predicting the construction of luxury villas and holiday homes in the not too distant future. A less cynical view, perhaps, would see it as 22 million set aside to bankroll the anticipated bid to take the presidency of the Republic in 2011. By that time, the logic goes, the money should have been well laundered, and the Northern Bank as forgettable as any Zebra eaten seven years ago on a Kenyan game reserve.

Today it has been widely reported throughout the media that PSNI chief Hugh Orde will name the Provisional IRA as the culprit. If so, he will merely be confirming what most already assume. This is despite Gerry Adams, who denies ever having been a member of the IRA, denying that the IRA was involved in the Northern Bank robbery. The public no doubt will assign equal weight to each Adams claim and reach its own conclusions accordingly. For once, few will be found disagreeing with the DUP's Sammy Wilson when he ridicules Sinn Fein's 'usual tripe about securocrats trying to destroy the peace process.' Like them or loathe them, the Provisionals have become contenders for the bank robbers of the century award by dint of their sheer organisational ability and track record. There is simply no one else within miles of them in possession of the requisite skills. In these matters the 'Green Mafia' is in a league of its own.

When Orde speaks to members of the North's policing board tomorrow, his professional pride will display the bruising sustained as a result of last month's robbery. Towards the end of 2004 the new word swirling around the palates of political pundits was 'humiliation.' And just to keep faith with the spirit of the times the firm who fleeced the Northern Bank inflicted the humiliation of the year on Hugh Orde's force. A job that some have speculated involved up to 40 thieves with no Ali Baba present to spoil the show, found the PSNI flat footed and cold. One security source was reported as saying: 'with something as big as this you would have expected in the past to have got a sniff that something was going on … this was an intelligence failure. There wasn't a single word that this was happening.'

The PSNI have since taken to giving the impression of being determined to look under every stone - if they can find any stones to look under. Luckily Al Qaeda does not treat Northern Ireland with the same inflated regard that its own political class does. Otherwise the PSNI may have learned the population of Belfast had died from botulism poisoning twenty-four hours earlier via Al Jazeera.

To add insult to their injury, when Andy Sproule and Sam Kincaid sent their late risers up into West Belfast's Cavendish Street to hassle a local man some smart cop decided to decommission his police issue weapon. Despite the absence of any photographic evidence that the said gun had in fact been decommissioned the DUP were happy to accept the word of the authorities and have been content to slag off Hugh Orde's men ever since.

Whatever the PSNI thinks it attained for its reputation during the year, its competence is now being viewed through the prism of the Christmas heist. In boxing it is said a fighter is only as good as his last bout. The PSNI didn't even manage to get into the ring on this occasion. Outfoxed and outmanoeuvred it now gives off the appearance of swinging wild punches at an opponent who has long since left the ring literally carrying the victory purse.

Although it is over two weeks since the robbery occurred, Hugh Orde is only now getting around to pointing the finger. This is in spite of the fact that his cops have been targeting the homes of people with long established links to Provisional republicanism. Given his instant response to the Kelly's Cellars incident last February, the tardiness on this occasion can only be explained by considerations other than policing. Orde, the peace process cop, is weighing up the political implications of any public utterance that he might make. He will have come under serious pressure to keep stum from an array of forces still wedded to the notion that a deal can be done between the DUP and Sinn Fein this side of 2006. If naming the Provisionals as the firm behind the heist were to adversely affect any potential deal, then Hugh Orde would be tempted to sign off tomorrow with a … 'to be continued.' If the deal is beyond salvaging at this point then Orde will place the Adams outfit in the dock.

Truth is indeed the product of multiple constraints. And policing - it is as political as ever.




Index: Current Articles + Latest News and Views + Book Reviews + Letters + Archives

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
- George Bernard Shaw

Index: Current Articles

7 January 2005

Other Articles From This Issue:

Northern Bank - Open All Day Monday
Anthony McIntyre

2005: New Year's Statement from the 32 County Sovereignty Movement
Francis Mackey

In the Underworld with the Trigger Men
Sean Mc Aughey

Racism as a Prelude to War Crimes
Ghali Hassan

Palestinian Elections: Charting the Future of Palestine
Haithem El-Zabri

2 January 2005

The Thing About History
Tom Luby

Do Not Be Afraid to Face the Truth
Mick Hall

Past Time to Deliver an Outcome
Davy Adams

Reclaiming Irish
Dr. John Coulter

Anthony McIntyre

Response to Anti-Semitism
Brian Kelly



The Blanket




Latest News & Views
Index: Current Articles
Book Reviews
The Blanket Magazine Winter 2002
Republican Voices