Archive for Friday, September 30, 2005

IRA said to still be active in crime

September 30, 2005


— The Irish Republican Army may no longer want to fight the British, but detectives say it's still in business - as owners of pubs and clubs, smugglers of fuel and cigarettes, bank robbers by night and property investors by day.

Throughout the past 35 years of conflict over this British territory, the IRA has built a sophisticated criminal empire throughout Ireland and beyond, laundering profits through legitimately owned businesses and properties worth more than $400 million, anti-racketeering experts say.

Now that weapons inspectors have announced the IRA's disarmament, the political focus has turned to whether the underground group will renounce crime, too.

The British and Irish governments say political progress depends on reports being published in October and January from the Independent Monitoring Commission. Both governments formed the four-man panel - which includes a former top CIA official - chiefly to publicize IRA activities.

Even the most ardent advocates of power-sharing say the IRA's criminal power has become the new deal-breaker. But IRA experts warn that the group is not about to cede control to common criminals.


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