Protest over PSNI raids

PSNI police raided the home of a former Sinn Féin councillor in County Down this week as part of continuing efforts to smear the party over last year’s Northern bank raid.

Sinn Féin assembly member Willie Clarke said the home of Francie Braniff was motivated by a “political policing agenda”.

No-one was arrested following the search, which lasted for less than 15 minutes.

Mr Clarke said such activities validated Sinn Féin’s position on policing and proved the “negative role” being played by elements of the “RUC old guard” within the renamed police force.

“Those securocrats behind this mornings raid on the Braniff family home are the same people who collapsed the political institutions, the same people who provide the nonsense which makes up IMC reports and the same people who have for decades controlled unionist murder gangs in their campaign against the nationalist and republican community,” said Mr Clarke.

“The British government need to bring these dissident elements to heel.

“From Tony Blair to Peter Hain and Hugh Orde, the SDLP and the Policing Board these people cannot avoid the reality of political policing and their responsibility in overseeing it. Clearly they now have a big job of work in trying to convince nationalists and republicans that the PSNI is capable of operating in an accountable, non-politically partisan and acceptable fashion.”

The PSNI continues to blame the Provisional IRA for the controversial December 2004 heist, the largest in Irish history. Although no evidence has emerged to back the claims, four men have separately appeared in court on charges related to the robbery.

All charges against one man were dropped last December without explanation. The other three have denied the charges and are on High Court bail. It is estimated that any trial will not take place for at least two years.

Meanwhile, it is believed that a former vice-president of Sinn Féin, Phil Flynn, has not been included in a police file into the alleged laundering of the proceeds of the Northern Bank raid sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) this week.

Mr Flynn was a director of Chesterton Finance, the company which found itself at the centre of the Garda police investigation into the discovery of a large sum of cash in Cork last February. The money was linked by the Gardai to the Northern bank raid, although no evidence emerged to substantiate the claim.

The linking by the Gardai of Mr Flynn, a confidante of 26-County Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and a former president of the ICTU trade union, to IRA money-laundering caused a sensation when the details emerged 12 months ago.

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© 2006 Irish Republican News