HEIST RAIDS ARE 'A JOKE'
Nationalists have expressed anger at PSNI raids and arrests in
republican areas of Counties Down and Tyrone, describing them as
"political" and "a set-up".
The raids are ostensibly in connection with the giant Northern
Bank robbery last year. The mystery 26.5 million pound heist
was blamed by the PSNI on the Provisional IRA, but no evidence
was found to back the claim.
In the first arrests in the case, three men from the village of
Kilcoo in County Down were seized on Tuesday night, two in
separate raids on their family homes and one in Belfast.
Two men were also arrested overnight in the County Tyrone towns
of Dungannon and Coalisland.
Searches of the houses in Kilcoo continued throughout yesterday.
Items removed for ex-amination included documents, mo-bile
phones, a passport, computer equipment and clothing.
The arrests were made less than 10 miles from Loughinisland,
where a bank official's wife was held hostage during last
December's Northern Bank robbery before being dumped in
Drumkeeragh Forest Park near Ballynahinch.
So far no-one has been charged over the heist, the biggest in
Irish or British history.
Lawyer Kevin Winter, who is representing the three men, voiced
concerns that their names had been made public in private
"We are very concerned that the leaking of the names of these
three people is not only prejudicial but also highly dangerous
and is an infringement of their human rights," Mr Winter said.
The family of builder Dominic McEvoy said he may have been
targeted because he had previously been accused of IRA activity.
Mr McEvoy had been in the kitchen making supper when police
called to the family home seeking his arrest.
"I thought it was something about bangers - you know what young
fellas are like," his mother said.
"He burst out laughing. He said: 'Don't worry, Ma.'
"They [the police] are just pushing and pushing this because
Dominic was lifted before. We are a republican family, all of
us, and we are quite proud of it.
Mrs Carlin's husband Seamus, her son's stepfather, said: "They
[the PSNI] had five search teams in here last night, from
11.30pm to 7.30am this morning. They even took other people's
"We were sitting at the kitchen table before they even produced
Asked whether Mr McEvoy was involved in the IRA, his stepfather
said: "It's total rubbish.
"It [the police operation] just speaks for itself. If you ask
anybody in this area, none of them have a bad word to say about
"It is harassment just gone wild. It is as simple as that."
An SDLP politician, who declined to be named, said the raids
were "a joke" which had caused "immense damage" to
the PSNI. He
suggested they were an attempt to discredit the force's Chief
Constable, Hugh Orde.
He knew the men arrested in Kilcoo, and said he was certain they
played no part in the bank raid. He said the arrests "stink of
a set up".
SInn Fein Assembly member fo South Down, Willie Clarke, said the
men arrested in Kilcoo were not members of the party.
"Local people are angry at the conduct of the searches, the
arrest of the two men and the attempts to smear their character
in the media through the usual 'security source' briefings," he
"These are the actions of a political police force. They are
not the actions of an accountable policing service."
Mr Clarke said heavy-handed policing and raids had become common
in areas like Kilcoo since the ceasefire.
"This is another example of it. This is totally farcical."
Sinn Fein MP for Fermanagh & South Tyrone Michelle Gildernew has
said that the ongoing PSNI operation against republicans in the
Dungannon area would further undermine the confidence of the
nationalist community in the ability of the PSNI to deliver
impartial and accountable policing.
"The PSNI operation against republicans which began yesterday n
South Down and continued overnight in Dungannon is without doubt
driven by the political policing agenda of the RUC old guard in
the Special Branch," she said.
"Yesterday's Special Branch briefing of the usual selected
sources in the media and the unprecedented naming of those
arrested by certain media outlets points all of us in that
"I have no doubt that these briefings will continue today and
attempts will be made to smear those arrested through the media.
"The operation in Tyrone overnight has been heavy handed,
unwarranted and completely without justification."