Ex-IRA man’s novel distances Provos from Northern Bank robbery

In 2010 Wikileaks disclosed cables from James Kenny, the US Ambassador in Dublin at the time of the 2005 Northern Bank robbery, reporting that the Irish government had "rock solid evidence" that Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness knew in advance of the robbery.
In 2010 Wikileaks disclosed cables from James Kenny, the US Ambassador in Dublin at the time of the 2005 Northern Bank robbery, reporting that the Irish government had "rock solid evidence" that Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness knew in advance of the robbery.

A former IRA man has written a novel about the terror group’s 2004 Northern Bank heist which appears to distance it from the robbery.

The terror group stole £26.5m from the Belfast city centre Northern Bank branch in December 2004.

Supporters of Sinn Fein block the entrance to the Grosvenor Road entrance to the Westlink in Belfast in 2005 as a protest to the IMC implicating the Sinn Fein leadership in the Northern Bank Robbery 'Picture Stephen Wilson

Supporters of Sinn Fein block the entrance to the Grosvenor Road entrance to the Westlink in Belfast in 2005 as a protest to the IMC implicating the Sinn Fein leadership in the Northern Bank Robbery 'Picture Stephen Wilson

The PSNI and British and Irish governments all blamed the IRA, although the terror group denied involvement, while the International Monitoring Commission said that senior Sinn Fein figures sanctioned the robbery.

An IRA gang took two families hostage in Belfast and County Down, forcing two bank employees to bring the money to them.

Richard O’Rawe was IRA public relations officer in the H-Block during the hunger strike in 1981.

His novel Northern Heist is based on the robbery.

Chris Ward (centre), 26, from Colinmill, Poleglass, arrives at Belfast Crown Court in 2008 where he denied charges in relation to the Northern Bank robbery,  and two further charges of false imprisonment.' He was acquitted of all charges. Colm O'Reilly Pacemaker Press

Chris Ward (centre), 26, from Colinmill, Poleglass, arrives at Belfast Crown Court in 2008 where he denied charges in relation to the Northern Bank robbery, and two further charges of false imprisonment.' He was acquitted of all charges. Colm O'Reilly Pacemaker Press

The story is told in the words of “Ructions O’Hare”, who is described as “no small-time, two-bit thief”.

“When Ructions put together a crack team to rob the National Bank in Belfast in November 2004, even he didn’t realise he was about to carry off one of the biggest bank heists in British and Irish history,” says the book’s blurb.

“And he’ll be damned if the Provos are getting a slice of it.”

Asked by the Belfast Telegraph if any of the characters in his novel were real people, O’Rawe replied: “I created the characters from my imagination, but some people may see them as real people.”

Ted Cunningham who laundered cash from the Northern Bank robbery being led away after receiving a ten years jail sentence in 2009. The 60-year-old, from Farran in Co Cork, was also found guilty at Cork Circuit Criminal Court in the Irish Republic of nine counts linked to a dirty money racket which moved cash from Belfast to Cork. Photo: Julien Behal/PA Wire

Ted Cunningham who laundered cash from the Northern Bank robbery being led away after receiving a ten years jail sentence in 2009. The 60-year-old, from Farran in Co Cork, was also found guilty at Cork Circuit Criminal Court in the Irish Republic of nine counts linked to a dirty money racket which moved cash from Belfast to Cork. Photo: Julien Behal/PA Wire

He said he wanted to write something about the use of “tiger kidnappings” - where employees are essentially forced to rob their own banks.

In 2005 The International Monitoring Commission reported that senior Sinn Fein members sanctioned the robbery.

The commission’s report said the party should bear its share of the blame for a series of robberies and that it should face financial sanctions.

The IMC backed the police assertion the IRA was behind the £26m raid.

Sinn Fein said it rejected the report because the IMC was “not independent”.

Republicans blocked some roads for a time in Belfast, Londonderry and Newry in protest at the report.

The IMC’s findings were based on intelligence information.

The four-strong commission also blames the terror group for robberies in Belfast and County Tyrone in which several people were abducted.

In 2010 Wikileaks disclosed cables from James Kenny, the US Ambassador in Dublin at the time of the 2005 Northern Bank robbery, reporting that the Irish government had “‘rock solid evidence’ that Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness were members of the IRA military command and for that reason, the Taoiseach is certain they would have known in advance of the robbery.”

Sinn Fein firmly rejected the claims.