Allegations in the mainstream media that properties worth over 40 million Euros have been connected to the Provisional IRA have been discredited in a press conference on Tuesday.
Following orchestrated media briefings to selected journalists, it was widely alleged that raids of properties in Manchester were linked to the finances of the IRA through a prominent County Louth-based republican.
The briefing were sourced to the PSNI and the head of the police’s Assets Recovery Agency (ARA), Alan McQuillan.
In a press conference yesterday, a lawyer acting for Dermot Craven, the Manchester businessman targeted by the ARA, has said his client manages only seven properties, not the hundreds reported in the media.
He said he had never met the alleged IRA link and criticised what he described as the “political agenda” behind the raids. The total portfolio is worth less than a million Euro, Mr Craven said.
Mr Craven said the last time a property transaction had taken place involving the parties was “approximately two years ago”.
Mr Kenyon last night blasted the ARA for having “successfully manipulated the media”.
He questioned why tens of thousands of pounds was spent on targeting his client.
“It is clear that the ARA have been deliberately feeding the media in a way designed to enhance their own profile without any proper consideration for my client’s rights, and for the fact that they are innocent -- as anyone can see because they are not accused of any crime.
“The ARA have fostered a belief or an approach which clearly suggests otherwise and quite frankly, that is unacceptable.
“If you glance at this #30 million [#20 million], it is complete rubbish. The 250 properties is complete rubbish. The reality is it was for their own benefit and they have spent tens of thousands in a wasted way.”
Mr Kenyon hit out at the extensive police support given to ARA raids at his client’s home and business premises.
“They sat in the waiting room, drinking tea, smoking cigarettes and burning the carpet.
“It was the easiest day’s dossing work for those police officers in a long time,” Mr Kenyon said.
Conor Murphy, the Sinn Fein MP for Newry and Armagh, said yesterday: “It is very clear that the ARA raids in Manchester last week were politically motivated and based entirely on innuendo, spin and malicious briefing.
“There is a clear responsibility on the two governments to sack those securocrats responsible for using their positions in organisations like the ARA to undermine the peace process.
“Such individuals not only undermine the political process but also undermine public confidence in the impartiality and ability of groups like the ARA to properly carry out the important job of seizing criminal assets,” Mr Murphy said.
* The President of the Workers’ Party of Ireland was arrested during the party’s annual conference in Belfast at the weekend, perventing him from delivering his keynote address.
Sean Garland, a former leader of the now-defunct ‘Official IRA’, was accused of taking part in an international counterfeiting conspiracy.
US federal prosecutors are reportedly seeking his extradition, along with six others.
Workers’ Party members took time off from their conference to stage a protest outside Belfast City Hall on Saturday. The party’s general secretary, John Lowry, said the arrest was “politically motivated”.
“This has caused intense anger and happened because of our opposition to the Iraq war and because we challenge US policies,” added Mr Lowry.