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Revisiting the Northern Bank robbery – the biggest heist in British history

The BBC is taking a fresh look at the biggest heist in British history – the Northern Bank Robbery.

Broadcast on BBC One NI on Monday (May 3) at 9pm, it tells the story of how the multi-million pound robbery played out in the days before Christmas 2004.

In a sophisticated operation, the gang took two families hostage for 24 hours, forcing two bank employees to rob £26.5 million from the Belfast cash centre.

Suspicion immediately fell on the Provisional IRA and a political storm ensued which threatened to derail a fragile peace process.

Sixteen years on, despite an international police investigation, it remains unsolved.

With exclusive access to new source material – including police 999 calls along with internal bank CCTV and court documents – they piece together what could have happened.

Through interviews with key players – in politics, policing and financial crime – they uncover what happened to the main suspects in the cross-border police investigation and ask whether the robbery may, inadvertently, have helped the peace process.

The film includes interviews with Bertie Ahern, former Taoiseach; Michael McDowell, former Irish Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Sir Hugh Orde, former Chief Constable PSNI; Dr Mitchell Reiss, US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland under the Bush administration; Tom Kelly, Prime Minister Tony Blair’s official spokesperson between 2001-7); and Peter Robinson, former leader of DUP and First Minister of NI.

There is also an interview with Ted Cunningham, the Cork-based financier who was the first person convicted in relation to the Northern Bank robbery.

This film takes a fresh look at the robbery and the questions that remain unanswered.

Two of Northern Ireland’s leading journalists – Darragh McIntyre and Sam McBride – come together to shed new light on one of the most notorious cases in UK-Irish criminal history.



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