like myself do not give a toss for the Northern
Bank or its money. Poor bankers are as rare as straight
politicians. A common attitude is that the cash
stolen from the bank last month came from a broad
back. Few in working class areas care if the fat
cat financiers never see their lolly again. They
also know that the poorer sections of Northern society
will not be the beneficiaries of it either. If,
as is being widely alleged, the robbery is the work
of the Provisional IRA's army council, then it is
a matter of the rich robbing the rich. None of the
loot will find its way to the victims of the tsunami.
The poor and unemployed of Ballymurphy and elsewhere
will have to fund that out of their own meagre incomes.
those convinced that the Provisionals are the guilty
party are some who are confidently predicting the
construction of luxury villas and holiday homes
in the not too distant future. A less cynical view,
perhaps, would see it as 22 million set aside to
bankroll the anticipated bid to take the presidency
of the Republic in 2011. By that time, the logic
goes, the money should have been well laundered,
and the Northern Bank as forgettable as any Zebra
eaten seven years ago on a Kenyan game reserve.
it has been widely reported throughout the media
that PSNI chief Hugh Orde will name the Provisional
IRA as the culprit. If so, he will merely be confirming
what most already assume. This is despite Gerry
Adams, who denies ever having been a member of the
IRA, denying that the IRA was involved in the Northern
Bank robbery. The public no doubt will assign equal
weight to each Adams claim and reach its own conclusions
accordingly. For once, few will be found disagreeing
with the DUP's Sammy Wilson when he ridicules Sinn
Fein's 'usual tripe about securocrats trying to
destroy the peace process.' Like them or loathe
them, the Provisionals have become contenders for
the bank robbers of the century award by dint of
their sheer organisational ability and track record.
There is simply no one else within miles of them
in possession of the requisite skills. In these
matters the 'Green Mafia' is in a league of its
Orde speaks to members of the North's policing board
tomorrow, his professional pride will display the
bruising sustained as a result of last month's robbery.
Towards the end of 2004 the new word swirling around
the palates of political pundits was 'humiliation.'
And just to keep faith with the spirit of the times
the firm who fleeced the Northern Bank inflicted
the humiliation of the year on Hugh Orde's force.
A job that some have speculated involved up to 40
thieves with no Ali Baba present to spoil the show,
found the PSNI flat footed and cold. One security
source was reported as saying: 'with something as
big as this you would have expected in the past
to have got a sniff that something was going on
this was an intelligence failure. There wasn't
a single word that this was happening.'
PSNI have since taken to giving the impression of
being determined to look under every stone - if
they can find any stones to look under. Luckily
Al Qaeda does not treat Northern Ireland with the
same inflated regard that its own political class
does. Otherwise the PSNI may have learned the population
of Belfast had died from botulism poisoning twenty-four
hours earlier via Al Jazeera.
add insult to their injury, when Andy Sproule and
Sam Kincaid sent their late risers up into West
Belfast's Cavendish Street to hassle a local man
some smart cop decided to decommission his police
issue weapon. Despite the absence of any photographic
evidence that the said gun had in fact been decommissioned
the DUP were happy to accept the word of the authorities
and have been content to slag off Hugh Orde's men
the PSNI thinks it attained for its reputation during
the year, its competence is now being viewed through
the prism of the Christmas heist. In boxing it is
said a fighter is only as good as his last bout.
The PSNI didn't even manage to get into the ring
on this occasion. Outfoxed and outmanoeuvred it
now gives off the appearance of swinging wild punches
at an opponent who has long since left the ring
literally carrying the victory purse.
it is over two weeks since the robbery occurred,
Hugh Orde is only now getting around to pointing
the finger. This is in spite of the fact that his
cops have been targeting the homes of people with
long established links to Provisional republicanism.
Given his instant response to the Kelly's Cellars
incident last February, the tardiness on this occasion
can only be explained by considerations other than
policing. Orde, the peace process cop, is weighing
up the political implications of any public utterance
that he might make. He will have come under serious
pressure to keep stum from an array of forces still
wedded to the notion that a deal can be done between
the DUP and Sinn Fein this side of 2006. If naming
the Provisionals as the firm behind the heist were
to adversely affect any potential deal, then Hugh
Orde would be tempted to sign off tomorrow with
'to be continued.' If the deal is beyond
salvaging at this point then Orde will place the
Adams outfit in the dock.
is indeed the product of multiple constraints. And
policing - it is as political as ever.