Sunday Business Post


30/05/04 00:00
By Barry O'Kelly

A year-long probe by the Gardai has concluded that the allegedly senior IRA figure, Thomas "Slab" Murphy, who was ranked number nine in a recent criminal rich list, does, in fact, possess no criminal assets.
The findings by the Garda Criminal Assets Bureau are at odds with a claim attributed to Justice Minister Michael McDowell last week that the government was determined to seize chunks of a €53 million fortune purported to be held by Murphy.

The Sunday Independent reported the claim in an article positioned opposite a full-page opinion piece by the minister about the IRA.

The paper reported that Democratic Unionist MP Jeffrey Donaldson had been told by McDowell about the government's determination to strip Murphy of his assets.

It followed a statement by Ulster Unionist David Burnside in the House of Commons two days earlier in which he noted that the Co Louth republican came 9th in a BBC rich list of criminals.

Garda sources expressed bemusement at the claims.

It was established more than a year ago that the publicity-shy farmer could account for the source of all his finances, the sources revealed. ``Everything was very thoroughly examined,'' an informed source explained.

``There are no assets that cannot be accounted for. He inherited a farm and that's it.''

Murphy (53),whose farm at Ballybinaby, Hackballscross, straddles the border between Louth and Armagh, has been the focus of stories about the IRA since he lost a libel action six years ago.

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