Belfast Telegraph

SF's Kelly lashes out at Ahern over bank heist crisis

By Brendan McDaid
22 February 2005

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Sinn Fein has attacked Taoiseach Bertie Ahern over accusations that the republican movement is involved in money laundering.

North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly accused the Irish government of being afraid of Sinn Fein's advance during a rally in Derry last night.

Speaking to a crowd of around 800 republicans in the Tower Hotel, the party's negotiator reiterated that both Sinn Fein and the IRA were standing by their positions over the £26m Northern Bank robbery at Christmas.

"I know this: I was not involved in it," he said.

"I can tell you Sinn Fein is not involved in this.

"I can tell you the IRA said it's not involved in it and I believe them."

Mr Kelly claimed that the rise in the republican vote had forced critics such as the Republic's Justice Minister Michael McDowell "into the undergrowth" in recent years.

He added: "Now they are smelling blood.

"They are trying to do what Maggie Thatcher tried to do in 1981. She absolutely and entirely failed and so will they."

Focusing on the Irish government he added: "They are afraid of the advance of Sinn Fein throughout this island.

"For Bertie Ahern to accuse people in the Sinn Fein leadership of being involved in the bank robbery is a very deliberate act.

"He is saying one of the people in the peace process, who had pushed so hard, was a criminal.

"That is big, big stuff. Part of our job now is to make sure he doesn't get away with it."

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