Monday, January 02, 2006


'Connolly couriered Farc's 2.6m' SUNDAY IND (IRELAND) , June 19, 2005 JIM CUSACK

FORMER High Court judge Feargus Flood has declined to comment on his association with the 'Centre for Public Inquiry', which was described in the House of Lords last week as what "is widely believed to be Sinn Fein's intelligence-gathering operation in the Irish Republic".
It was also claimed in the Lords that Frank Connolly, brother of 'Colombia Three' member Niall, who runs the 'Centre' carried 2.6m back from Colombia as part of the Farc terrorist group's payment to the IRA for arms and explosives training.
Frank Connolly was questioned by gardai about his trip to Colombia on a false passport but was never charged. The investigation, however, is still "active", say gardai.
Asked if he had ever quizzed Connolly about being questioned by gardai, the former judge replied: "I know nothing about this and I don't propose to comment at all."
Mr Flood, who headed the planning inquiry in Dublin Castle until resigning in 2003, joined the board of Connolly's group in February. No information has emerged about the activities of the group, whose stated intention is to "promote a high standard of integrity, ethics and accountability across the public and private sectors in Ireland".
The American charity foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies, which has given $4m to Connolly to run his 'Centre' over five years, said yesterday: "We do not discuss grantees with third parties."
The foundation, which is distributing the huge wealth of Irish-American businessman Chuck Feeney - who has personally funded Sinn Fein in the US - has given away hundreds of millions to groups in Ireland, Britain, Africa, the US and Vietnam. The $4m given to Connolly's venture is one of the largest sums given to a group in Britain or Ireland by the charity.
Until setting up the 'Centre' with Chuck Feeney's money, Frank Connolly worked as a reporter forIreland on Sundayand before that with theSunday Business Post. He is now described as "chief executive" of the group.
Speaking in the House of Lords on Tuesday night, Lord Laird of Artigarvin said: "I note that the former High Court judge, Feargus Flood, is happy to allow his name to be associated with the organisation. Yet he has refused to question the organisation's chief executive on why he travelled to Colombia on false passports with a well-known IRA member to collect GBP2m - a part payment to the IRA by Farc terrorists for providing training."
He told the House that he wished to point out to "Sinn Fein and its supporters that their activities and behaviour over the past couple of years have been beyond the democratic pale". He added: "Many of us hoped that SF would move towards being a party supported, backed and operated in a purely democratic way. We were frustrated in that rather naive wish.
"Recent events, including the Northern Bank robbery, have painted a nasty and unacceptable picture of Sinn Fein/IRA's methods of fundraising through theft and money laundering. In the past few weeks, I have outlined to your Lordships' House information about Sinn Fein/IRA's activities, which are now becoming known as 'white-collar terrorism'.
"Money is of no object to Sinn Fein and its supporters. Four million US dollars were recently forthcoming from well-meaning, if misguided, Irish Americans to what is widely believed to be SF's intelligence-gathering operation in the Irish Republic, the Centre for Public Inquiry."
Lord Laird was attacked by Sinn Fein's Alex Maskey, who claimed his statements were "scurrilous and unfounded".
Frank Connolly, whose brother Niall was arrested along with two other IRA men in Colombia in 2001 while also travelling on false passports, describes the reports of his visit to Colombia as "absurd and inaccurate".
Niall Connolly and two IRA engineers, Jim Monaghan and Martin McAuley, are currently on the run after skipping bail in Bogota. They were sentenced in their absence to 17 years for training Farc in mortar and bomb making.


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