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Martin McGuinness, Gerry Adams and Bertie Ahern meet in Dublin in 2005. Julien Behal/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Wikileaks cables: Sinn Féin leaders knew of Northern Bank heist plan

WikiLeaks cables suggest Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness knew of plans to rob Northern Bank while they participated in the peace process negotiations.

US CABLES IN THE latest WikiLeaks cache show that former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern believed Sinn Féin leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness knew of plans to rob Northern Bank while they were involved in lengthy negotiations to save the peace process.

Ahern also believed Adams and McGuinness were members of the IRA military command, according to the reports written by US officials.

Around £26.5m (€31.7) was stolen from the Belfast headquarters of Northern Bank in December 2004. No one has ever been convicted of the robbery.

The cables published today in the Guardian show that a senior Irish government official told the US embassy that the government believed the IRA was behind the robbery as the peace process negotiations were underway.

The official also said government had “”rock solid evidence” that Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness are members of the IRA military command and for that reason, the Taoiseach is certain they would have known in advance of the robbery”.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland this morning, Adams denied the allegations saying “this isn’t a new story” and that Ahern “said this at the time. We denied this and I deny it again this morning”. He said this was part of a Fianna Fáil smear campaign against Sinn Féin.

Adams, who has repeatedly denied being a member of the IRA command, is expected to be nominated the Sinn Féin candidate for Louth for the next general election. He denied that the allegations contained in the cables were in any way damaging to him in pursuing the nomination.

Finucane’s murder

MI5 offered to hand over sensitive files on the murder of civil rights solicitor Pat Finucane, who was shot dead in front of his family in 1989 by the UFF. Finucane’s family has been campaigning for a new inquiry into his murder.

The British government has announced a public inquiry will be established into allegations of UK collusion in his death, but under legislation which Amnesty International claims will “effectively extinguish the chances of a genuinely independent and effective investigation”.

The cables refer to meetings US special envoy Mitchell Reiss conducted in May 2005, and say that Reiss spoke to Ahern of his meeting with the  the head of MI5 “who committed to turning over all evidence her agency has to the inquiry”.

The report continues: “Reiss noted his concern that the Finucane case will become an irritant in Irish relations with the UK and get in the way of a deal”.

Finucane’s family described the disclosure about MI5 as “highly significant”, according to the Irish Times.

Have your say in today’s poll: Is WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange a hero, or a villain?

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