Irish Republican News · March 13, 2006
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Media smuggled in for border raid

A raid on an alleged border smuggling operation has provided the launching pad for a wave of anti-republican news coverage.

The house of prominent republican Tom Murphy in Ballybinaby, South Armagh, was raided on Thursday in a very high profile policing operation.

The timing of the raid against ‘Slab’ Murphy, demonised in the British media as a top ‘bandit country’ smuggler for over a decade, remains a source of mystery.

Mr Murphy was not at home when 26-County gardai raided his properties in north Louth at around 7am. A simultaneous “swoop” was mounted by PSNI police on the Armagh side of the border. Police reports claimed the two forces treaded carefully the undemarcated border which runs through the farm.

British customs officials were said to have seized fuel, cigarettes and cash in the raid on the farm, part of which lies across the border in County Louth.

A large media contingent was present for the raids, including photographers who operated out of police helicopters.

Republicans in South Armagh traditionally do not recognise the border and have ignored or defied border customs officials since the partition of Ireland in 1922.

Two brothers of Mr Murphy, both aged in their fifties and sixties, were arrested but released without charge, as was the wife of one of the men.

The development came five months after claims that more than 200 properties in Greater Manchester, were linked to the affairs of Mr Murphy. Those claims were subsequently disproved and withdrawn.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams criticised the media for the manner in which the raids were reported.

“Sinn Féin supports the pursuit of criminal assets wherever that occurs, and we don’t have any problem with that,” he said. “We are opposed to the big military super-raids, wherever they take place. They could have sent in five guards and five peelers to sort this out.

“I am particularly concerned at the attempt that is in all the media about an attempt to demonise a man called Tom Murphy,” he added. “The same thing was done after this Manchester mess when all sorts of outlandish claims were made and treated as fact.

“Tom Murphy is not a criminal, he is a good republican. I read his statement after the Manchester raids. I believe what he says.

“He is also, very importantly, a key supporter of the Sinn Féin peace strategy and has been for a very long time.”

Asked if there was evidence that Murphy had been a member of the IRA army council, Mr Adams said: “Whatever about all of that - and there is no evidence to support any of that - I want to deal with what is an effort to portray Tom Murphy as a criminal, as a bandit, as a gang boss, as someone who is exploiting the republican struggle for his own ends, as a multimillionaire. There is no evidence to support any of that.”

At his Belfast press conference yesterday Mr Adams unequivocally said smuggling was wrong.

“We support the pursuit of criminal assets,” he said. “Anybody who is involved in criminality should face the full rigours of the law, and that includes the right to a fair trial, that includes the right not to be tried by the media.”

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© 2006 Irish Republican News