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Behind the great Northern Bank Heist

What does it mean when the chief police officer in a state holds a press conference and implicates the second largest party in a massive bank heist? What does it mean when the chief constable presents no evidence for his claim? His statement is based on a hunch, intelligence, the direction of a number of lines of enquiry.

What does it mean when the police force involved shows massive incompetence, failing to prevent the bank robbery even when alerted by members of the public, then goes on to stage indiscriminate raids in nationalist areas, having a weapon and ammunition stolen from them in the process?

What does it mean when the police force involved is the RUC, a criminal sectarian force with decades of involvement in state death squads and collusion with loyalist paramilitaries, recently re-badged as the Police Service of Northern Ireland?

What it means is that the process following the £26 million robbery of Belfast’s Northern Bank on the 20th December is totally innocent of any policing function. It is instead political - the restructuring yet again the framework aimed at restabilising the Northern Irish statelet. The political nature of police chief Hugh Orde’s statement is underlined by the recent decision by the British authorities to recognise a ‘ceasefire’ by the sectarian gangsters of the loyalist Ulster Defence Association in defiance not only of their own monitoring committee, but of daily headlines in the newspapers. In earlier times the IRA were able to kill alleged drug dealers without the British noticing, but that was then and this is now. The demand for immediate and unconditional surrender and disbandment of the IRA has moved from being insane ranting by the right wing of unionism to being the united demand of the British imperialists and of all the parties of Irish capitalism.

The whole political process has to move a lot further to the right to make it more attractive to the Unionists. One straw in the wind is a recent British announcement that halls belonging to the sectarian Orange Order are to be excused rates. State subsidies for sectarian hatred are a glaring signpost towards the sort of society Irish workers are expected to suffer under.

Sinn Fein have reacted to the changed situation with incoherence. Their automatic response to the Orde statement was to blame ‘securocrats’ – elements of the bureaucracy who, according to Sinn Fein, continuously sabotage a political settlement despite the best intentions of the British. As on so many other occasions, this explanation was demolished when both the London and Dublin governments supported and amplified the police allegations. A confused emergency conference led only to a statement that they would not be deflected from the peace process – that is they have no alternative to supporting a process that placates loyalist sectarians and makes constant political attacks on their own organisation!

John McAnulty