Thursday 22 August 2019

Police rule out dissident republican link to Northern Ireland ATM robbery spree

Cash grab: Gardaí at the scene of the ATM raid in Castleblayney last week.
PHOTO: STEVE HUMPHREYS
Cash grab: Gardaí at the scene of the ATM raid in Castleblayney last week. PHOTO: STEVE HUMPHREYS

Jonathan Bell

Police have ruled out the a dissident republican link to the recent spate of ATM thefts across Northern Ireland.

In the House of Commons, Lady Sylvia Hermon stated the groups were responsible and intent on using the money from the stolen machines to fund attacks on police and others along the border in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The theft of an ATM in Dungiven in the early hours of Sunday morning was the ninth such incident in Northern Ireland this year.

Police have established a special task force of detectives to investigate the incidents. Earlier this month, an officer said that while there was no evidence linking the thefts to dissident republicans "all crime in Northern Ireland usually goes back to paramilitaries".

There are concerns among retail groups ATM providers could decide to remove machines from rural areas, potentially leaving communities without access to a cash machine in their area.

During Northern Ireland questions on Wednesday, Independent North Down MP Hermon asked the Government if it was aware dissident republicans were responsible and using the funds to buy weaponry for Brexit-related attacks.

In response Northern Ireland minister John Penrose said he could not comment due to ongoing police investigations, but acknowledged that there had been a "great deal of speculation about this matter".

The PSNI were able to confirm there is no current link to dissident republicans as part of their investigations.

Crime Operations Assistant Chief Constable Barbara Gray said: “At this time it is the assessment of the PSNI that dissident republican groups are not involved in the orchestration of recent ATM thefts in Northern Ireland.”

Belfast Telegraph

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