Anger over Ahern ‘raid’ remarks
http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/40651000/jpg/_40651473_newnorthern203.jpg Millions of pounds were stolen from the bank on 20 December
**Sinn Fein is angry at claims it knew of a plan to rob the Northern Bank in Belfast, Martin McGuinness has said. **
Mr McGuinness said on Monday that comments by the Irish prime minister left him feeling “angry and perplexed”.
Bertie Ahern said on Sunday he was convinced republicans were aware of the plan during intensive political talks in December.
Police said the IRA was behind the raid. Sinn Fein has rejected this.
“I reject absolutely any suggestions whatsoever of double dealing or dishonesty by Gerry Adams or myself,” Mr McGuinness said.
“I remind people that we in Sinn Fein represent on this island around 340,000 voters and we are not, under any circumstances, going to allow that mandate to be set aside by anyone.”
He said that whoever carried out the robbery was hostile to the peace process and Sinn Fein’s agenda.
Earlier, the party’s chairman, Mitchel McLaughlin said, many nationalists and republicans would be deeply disappointed that the taoiseach had chosen to believe the British and to “jump onto the DUP bandwagon of blame”.
PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde said on Friday that he believed the IRA was behind the £26.5m Northern Bank raid.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Tony Blair said the chief constable would not have made the claims without evidence.
He said progress was possible in the Northern Ireland process but the IRA must stop all violence.
Mr Blair also said unionists were “entirely justified” to refuse to share power with Sinn Fein, “unless there is a definitive end to all forms of paramilitary or criminal activity by one of the parties that is associated with a paramilitary group”.
Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley will meet Mr Blair this week when he will call on the government to form a devolved administration without republicans.
He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme on Monday that he was not willing to enter into any discussions whatsoever with a party with links to a group which “continued to take part in criminal activity”.
http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/40705000/jpg/_40705937_paisleycu203.jpg Mr Paisley is to meet Tony Blair this week
“The agreement we came together to reach was that if anybody broke the rules and were not prepared to stick to peace, instead of paramilitary activity, they would automatically go out of the process,” he said.
"I think the IRA have put themselves out of the process.
“I think that the two governments have got to get the train out of the station. As the IRA/Sinn Fein have put themselves out of the train, the train must go on and we must get our government back here in Northern Ireland.”
Mr Paisley said he accepted that those who were elected by voters were entitled to hold office whether he agreed with their principles or not. The bank raid is thought to have been one of the UK’s biggest cash robberies. The robbers stole millions from the vaults of the bank on 20 December as the families of two bank officials were held hostage.