Terror-weary, IRA shifts to financial crimeAugust 29, 2014
Coming to terms with their faded, washed out political cause, ex-terrorists of the disbanded Irish Republican Army and their newer generation of recruits have turned to money laundering schemes, organized crime, drug trafficking, and other forms of financial crime.
Like the movie, “The Third Generation,” illustrated, after the wind goes out of the sails of a formerly principled revolutionary group, the newer followers turn to ruthless and petty trifles.
This is something of a cautionary tale for the way the world deals with terrorist organizations and rebel groups who have failed to carry out their main objectives. Is it better to finish them off once and for all, or to let them limp along through banditry? The problem with this case is that the bandits appear to have evolved into a permanent mafia class.
This commentary from the National Post in May sheds more light on the development:
…The more controversial British economic policy post-Thatcher was to effectively allow Sinn Fein’s military wing, the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), to launder the huge amounts of money it had acquired through high-profile bank robberies. This bounty was widely labelled by republicans as a pension fund — or pay settlement — for IRA members.
Instead of trying to recover the funds, the British government turned a blind eye and gave the IRA 10 years in which to legitimize the cash. This the IRA did, with property in parts of Dublin exchanging hands well above the market value. The laundering reached such heights that pubs on the outskirts of the city exchanged hands for millions of euros. While all this initially worked well for the IRA, the spectacular economic collapse of the Republic of Ireland, and in particular the property crash, meant that the ex-IRA members’ funds plunged in value.
British Intelligence agencies kept a close watch on the whole process, and became increasingly alarmed as members of the disbanded IRA turned to more traditional forms of organized crime — such as drug dealing and brothel management in order to make up for shortfalls caused by the financial crash. The absence of foreign organized crime syndicates in Northern Ireland (one of the few positive effects of the conflict) meant that opportunistic ex-IRA members were able to quickly fill this crime vacuum with relative ease.
Ex-loyalist paramilitaries had long since been involved in organized crime in loyalist areas of Northern Ireland. Indeed, much of the violence that has taken place in the so-called post-conflict era has been the result of “turf wars” between rival gangs of loyalists fighting over control of the lucrative illegal drugs markets…