Northern Ireland

IRA cash 'going through back door to Sinn Féin'

Andrew Robathan
Image caption Andrew Robathan - a former soldier and a former Northern Ireland Office minister - was speaking in a debate brought by the DUP

A Conservative MP has claimed in the House of Commons that money that used to go to the Provisional IRA was going "through the back door" to Sinn Féin.

Andrew Robathan - a former soldier and a former Northern Ireland Office minister - was speaking in a debate brought by the DUP.

Mr Robathan also alleged that leading republican Thomas 'Slab' Murphy was "still up to crooked business".

Sinn Féin said it was a "scurrilous allegation," which it denied.

The DUP is calling for the National Crime Agency (NCA) to be allowed to operate fully in Northern Ireland, as it has fewer powers in Northern Ireland than the rest of the UK.

This is due to concern among nationalist parties about the accountability of the agency, which presently reports directly to the home secretary in Westminster.

Mr Robathan said: "Anyone who ever served in south Armagh knew the name of Slab Murphy. He's still there, he's still up to his crooked business.

Image copyright bbc
Image caption Thomas 'Slab' Murphy was mentioned by a Tory MP in the House of Commons

"What is he doing with his money? Some of it's going on new houses, some of it's going on Mercedes cars, some of it's probably going on villas in Spain.

"But I have to say who is funding political organisations? I will say to the minister, I fear you will find that quite a lot of this money that used to go to the Provisional IRA is going through the back door to Sinn Féin - because I cannot see anywhere else it is going."

He went on: "South Armagh is still bandit country - we need to have the NCA in there."

Thomas "Slab" Murphy is a leading republican who in the past is alleged to have been the IRA's chief of staff.

A Sinn Féin spokesperson said: "This is a scurrilous allegation and yet another abuse of British parliamentary privilege made to an almost empty House of Commons during the debate.

"Sinn Féin categorically denies the allegation and challenges Andrew Robathan to bring any evidence to the relevant authorities."