Orde blames IRA over money plant

Hugh Orde: "I am not particularly impressed by it"

It is too early to say if money seized in the Republic of Ireland on Thursday was stolen from the Northern Bank in Belfast, the chief constable has said.

Hugh Orde said he was convinced republicans planted £50,000 from the £26.5m raid in a police sports club.

There is speculation the robbers behind the raid may be trying to implicate the security forces in the crime.

Police discovered £50,000 in new Northern Bank notes at the Newforge Country Club in Belfast.

Mr Orde and the British and Irish governments have blamed the IRA for December's raid, which it has denied.

Five shrink-wrapped packages each containing £10,000 were found in the club toilets on Friday.

Mr Orde said: "It is a small amount of money in terms of the bank robbery.

"It is a distraction. It is people trying to take the focus off the key issue, which is the operation run by the Garda, and the major crime inquiry we still have ongoing.

"Places like sports clubs have become more open. It was an easy thing to do.

"I am not particularly impressed by it, but I did ask them to give the money back in my first press conference and they have started to listen."

It is the first cash from the robbery to turn up.

'IRA criminality'

On Thursday, £2m - £60,000 of it in Northern Bank notes - was seized in the Irish Republic.

Tests are being carried out on the notes to see if they were part of the stolen £26.5m.

Irish police investigating alleged money laundering have arrested eight people in the past week. Six have been released, one is still being questioned and one man has been charged with membership of the Real IRA.

Mr Ahern said robbery had no place in Irish society

On Sunday, Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern said Sinn Fein must recognise IRA criminality "lies at the root of the current crisis of the peace process".

"Money laundering and robbery have no place in Irish society," he said.

"Sinn Fein have to assume full responsibility to resolve the situation before (Irish and British) governments and others can respond."

The DUP's Ian Paisley Jnr blamed republicans for leaving the cash in the police club.

"I think this find by the police is an act of desperation by republicans, an attempt to throw the police off the scent," he said.

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