The latest disclosures of secret U.S. cables by WikiLeaks show that Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness were aware of the IRA’s plans to carry out the Northern Bank robbery in December 2004.
Sinn Fein leader Adams has strongly denied the story. He told Irish radio this morning that "I repudiated it then, as did Martin. It isn’t true…I then spoke to the Taoiseach privately about this matter.
“It was my conviction at the time, because there was very intense, as there is now, electoral rivalry between Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil.
“I saw this and still see this as part of Fianna Fáil’s attack on or fight back against Sinn Féin at that time.”
“I worked very closely with, and indeed still work very closely with, American ambassadors and the US president at the time, vice president and other members of the administration going back 15 years or so,” said Mr Adams.
“They never raised this with me.”
The leaked cables report that, then Prime Minister Bertie Ahern held critical peace process negotiations with Mr Adams and Mr McGuinness when they knew the IRA was planning the $40 million robbery. Mr Ahern believed they were IRA leaders.
According to the new leaks the Irish Government also believed that British intelligence agencies had a senior informant within the republican movement.
In February 2005 the U.S. ambassador to Dublin, James Kenny, reported a Department of Justice officials informed the embassy of Mr Ahern’s concerns.
According to the cable the official told the ambassador “that the GOI [Government of Ireland] does have ‘rock solid evidence’ that Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness are members of the IRA military command and for that reason, the Taoiseach [Prime Minister] is certain they would have known in advance of the robbery”.
In another cable in 2005 the robbery was raised again. Mr Kenny reported that the Prime Minster was concerned about the special U.S. envoy to Ireland Mitchell Reiss. “The Taoiseach . . . believes Sinn Féin leaders were aware of plans to rob the Northern Bank even as they negotiated with him last fall,” it said. “Publicly, he has been unprecedentedly critical of Sinn Féin and, until recently, [there were] greatly reduced private contacts as well.”
Last night and spokesperson for Sinn Fein said that there was “not a shred of evidence” that the IRA is linked to the robbery. They said “It is no surprise that political opponents of Sinn Féin at the time such as Bertie Ahern should have been trying to smear Sinn Féin . . . and they are still doing it.”
Another disclosure from WikiLeaks with relation to the murder of Northern Irish solicitor Pat Finucane should that MI5, Britian’s internal security services, offered to hand over sensitive files following his death. The news was described by supporters and friends of Mr Finucane as “highly significant”.