Northern Bank raid notes used

31/12/2004 - 12:20:42

Two bank notes from the £22m (€31m) haul stolen from the Northern Bank headquarters in Belfast earlier this month have been discovered at an ice rink near the city.

The notes, which had serial numbers matching those released by the bank, were passed at the Dundonald International Ice Bowl some time between 10am and 3pm yesterday.

A spokeswoman for Castlereagh Borough Council said the ice rink had handed the notes over to the police.

The fact that the notes were passed would appear to indicate that the thieves behind the heist are trying to get rid of the cash quickly.

Many of the notes were brand new and the serial numbers have been given to police investigating the daring raid, during which the families of two bank officials were held hostage.

The rest of the haul was in used Northern Bank notes, which may also be difficult to launder.

The bank is considering withdrawing all its notes from circulation and replacing them with new currency in an effort to frustrate the thieves.

The PSNI apparently believes republicans were responsible for the robbery and has carried out a number of searches of homes and other properties in republican areas of Belfast.

However, detectives are believed to have recovered nothing connected to the raid during the searches, which have been criticised by Sinn Féin.

The IRA has denied any involvement in the theft.

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