Irish Independent

Police rule out arrest of €38m raid suspects

POLICE last night denied claims that they had drawn up a list of names of Provisional IRA members they believed to have been involved in the €38m Northern Bank robbery.

Senior PSNI officers were reported at the weekend to have supplied the names for secret briefings given to the British and Irish governments in the wake of the robbery.

But the report was dismissed as without foundation and detectives said names being mentioned in the media were based on speculation.

Police also rejected suggestions they were planning a series of arrests of prime suspects this week or that detectives had information showing that the IRA's "southern command" was responsible for acquiring the white van used to remove the massive haul from the Belfast bank.

Management at the Northern Bank yesterday said they were confident that it would now be impossible for robbers to mount a raid on the scale of last month's heist.

The head of business banking, Colin Dundas, conceded that mistakes had been made that allowed the robbers to plunder the vaults at the bank's headquarters in Belfast on December 20.

But Mr Dundas said lessons had been learnt since the raid and changes introduced.

"Security procedures were not as effective as they should have been. What we are doing at the moment is conducting a full review of all aspects of that," he said.

The police have revealed that they have one vital piece of camera footage showing that the van used in the robbery had travelled on the Forkhill-Newry road close to the border two hours before the raid. The white Ford Transit had been fitted with number plates similar to a van which was regularly driven across the border to make deliveries for a Northern firm. However, police said they had no information suggesting that the bogus van had been acquired on the southern side of the border and would be requiring assistance from the gardai in carrying out raids on suspects' homes.

Tom Brady and
Louise McCall

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