Irish Republican News · October 6, 2005
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]

Highly publicised police raids on alleged IRA properties in northern England have derailed crucial talks on reviving the peace process, taking place at the same time in London.

Yesterday, the PSNI announced that it had conducted raids in Manchester as part of an investigation into the Provisional IRA.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams questioned the integrity of the PSNI police’s Assets Recovery Agency (ARA), saying its assistant director, Alan McQuillan, was a former member of the RUC Special Branch, an individual known to be opposed to the peace process.

There was also concern at the apparent smearing of individuals under investigation. Media reports, apprently tipped off by McQuillan, quickly added that the raids were part of an investigation into prominent south Armagh republican Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy.

The Manchester raids took place as Sinn Féin leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness prepared for Downing Street talks with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

With decommissioning chief General John de Chastelain declaring just 10 days ago that all IRA weapons had been destroyed, the meeting was to focus on a fresh push to revive the power-sharing administration in Belfast.

But the talks were overshadowed by the fallout over the publicity accorded to the touted “smashing” of the IRA’s finances.

While Mr Adams railed against the evident political agenda behind the raids, unionists warned the development could further derail the peace process.

Mr Paisley, who was in Downing Street for separate talks, backed the move but claimed it should have happened sooner.

“I wish the police every success and I trust that soon these people will be brought to the courts, have British justice applied to them and be removed from our society which they have cursed for far too long,” he said.

But Mr Adams challenged the allegations and hit out at ARA’s Belfast chief Alan McQuillan.

He demanded: “Have the Assets Recovery Agency named some person?

“I am not going to respond to what are obviously briefings headed up by a man, Alan McQuillan, a former Special Branch officer.

“I don`t think it’s any accident and I am not surprised that this is trotted out today. This is obviously a political agenda.”

Sinn Féin’s Newry and Armagh MP Conor Murphy insisted today that Mr Murphy, one of his constituents, was being unfairly implicated in criminal activity.

He said the official media statement by the ARA made no mention of any republicans, yet the agency appeared to be giving private briefings “to try and point the finger at different people”.

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© 2005 Irish Republican News