Blame game falters in Belfast heist
Blame game falters in Belfast heist

The PSNI police have accepted that the IRA was not behind a cash robbery in Belfast at the weekend which identically mirrored the Northern Bank heist before Christmas.

Knee-jerk accusations by unionists had set the scene for another major crisis in the peace process following the carefully planned robbery.

It is thought a gang of six to 10 people was involved in stealing a six-figure sum from Boots city centre pharmacy.

Two families were held captive at their homes in the south and west of the city the night before. The staff members were ordered to go into work on Saturday and clear out all cash.

The money was put in sports bags and given to gang members in front of early-morning shoppers. The handover took place just metres from the scene of last December’s raid on the Northern Bank headquarters, when $50 million was seized from the vaults.

However, police are understood to be investigating criminal gangs and have said that an IRA operation is not a major line of inquiry.

The DUP’s Sammy Wilson insisted that the Northern Bank robbery was not a “one off” and there was still the capability and willingness on the part of the Provisional IRA to carry out similar robberies.

He said: “We do not believe that the Provos intend to wind down their criminal activities.

“While that continues they will find that they will be excluded from any part in any institutions that we are involved in. The political consequences are well-known and serious.”

Sinn Féin’s Michael Ferguson hit back at the comments saying it was “ridiculous” for the DUP to speculate on who was to blame and said the party is just using it as another opportunity not to talk to Republicans.

He said: “This is just familiar rhetoric for the DUP. They do not want to talk to anyone but want to live on an island all of their own. Everything that happens, they heap the blame on Republicans.

“Instead of pointing the finger of blame at Republicans for everything they should do the decent thing and agree to power share.”

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