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Statement by Bertie Ahern regarding comments by Hugh Orde on the Northern Bank robbery (7 January 2005)

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Text: Bertie Ahern ... Page compiled: Brendan Lynn

Statement by Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), regarding comments by Hugh Orde, then Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), on the Northern Bank robbery, (Saturday 7 January 2005)


"While recognising that the investigation is ongoing and arrests have yet to be made, the Chief Constable’s comments today regarding the Northern Bank robbery are a matter of deep concern.

Irrespective of the final outcome of this investigation, the attribution of the Northern Bank robbery to the Provisional IRA represents a serious set-back for the political process in Northern Ireland and is corrosive of the public confidence that we have been seeking to create. It underscores the need for compelling commitments – both in word and deed – that the full spectrum of IRA paramilitary activities and capability has been brought to a definitive closure. This must include the necessary assurance in regard to all forms of criminal activity which, following the Northern Bank robbery, clearly remains a major concern.

The proposals for a comprehensive agreement published by both Governments on 8 December provided for these essential commitments, both in regard to the transparency of arms decommissioning and the ending of all forms of paramilitary and criminal activity. Recent developments have validated the need for such demonstrable commitments if the public confidence necessary to sustain inclusive government is to be achieved.

The Garda Siochana are cooperating fully with the PSNI in an effort to ensure that the perpetrators of this crime, involving as it did a gross and callous violation of the rights and safety of others, are brought to justice as quickly as possible. The Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) will offer a considered assessment of the matter in its next report. At political level, the robbery and its aftermath will reinforce the determination of both Governments to complete the unfinished business arising from the comprehensive agreement. If stable politics in Northern Ireland is to be secured, there can be no doubt or ambiguity about the total commitment of all concerned to exclusively peaceful and democratic engagement, including desisting from involvement in criminality in all its forms.

On his return from the Far East, the Minister for Foreign Affairs will meet the Secretary of State to review matters. Moreover, the Prime Minister and I will meet in the coming weeks for a full and comprehensive discussion on how both Governments now take forward the process."


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