Belfast Telegraph

IRA bomber Donna Maguire's fury over Spanish arrest - 'Angel of Death' denies involvement in £10m international fraud case

By Ciaran Barnes

IRA bomber Donna Maguire has branded her arrest in connection with a £10m international fraud case as “nonsense”.

In her only media interview since being lifted in Spain at Christmas, the veteran republican – who was once Europe’s most wanted woman – told Sunday Life: “These things I have been accused of, I did not do.”

Maguire, 47, and her 54-year-old husband, Leonard ‘Bap’ Hardy, who is also a convicted IRA bomber, were detained in Lanzarote after flying to the island for a post-Christmas break.

They are accused of being central figures in a £10m international smuggling and property fraud.

Maguire, pictured here for the first time since her arrest, was freed on bail and last week returned to her home in Co Louth with her four children.

Hardy is still being held in Spain with bail set at €250,000.

It was from the doorstep of Maguire’s neat bungalow, fitted with electronic gates and just a mile from the border, that she spoke to this newspaper.

She politely refused to go into the details of the case, but did talk about a desire to see her husband (right) return home.

“The case against me and my husband is a lot of nonsense. The stuff in the papers this past week isn’t true,” said Maguire.

“I’m just waiting for my husband coming home from Spain so we can get on with our lives.

“These things I have been accused of, I did not do.”

Maguire’s appearance – that of a well-to-do middle-aged mother – is a world away from her reputation as a ruthless bomber.

The former Newry convent girl, once dubbed the Angel of Death, was caged for nine years in Germany in 1995 after being found guilty of IRA attempted murder and explosives

Her north Belfast-born husband, Leonard ‘Bap’ Hardy, received a six-year jail sentence after admitting his role in the same failed 1989 attack at a British Army base in Osnabruck.

But because the IRA man was convicted in 2006 – six years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement – he avoided prison.

In recent years both Maguire and Hardy have kept low profiles, and according to republican sources are no longer involved in politics.

But Irish customs officials and police in Spain believe the couple are prime movers in an international crime gang that has made millions of pounds through property fraud funded by the sale of illegal cigarettes and alcohol.

When Hardy and Maguire were arrested in Lanzarote on December 29 cops raided 11 properties in Las Palmas, Alicante, Malaga and Murcia.

Sources in Spain say the authorities were in the process of requesting the formal extradition of the pair from the Republic.

But when they unexpectedly landed in Lanzarote for a family holiday cops seized their chance and arrested them.

A request for an international extradition warrant for a third person was withdrawn after Spanish police discovered the man is in prison in the Republic on unrelated charges.

Spanish officials have frozen property assets worth more than €5.5m, along with 90 bank accounts and huge investment portfolios as part of their investigation.

The probe is being led by detectives from the Spanish Federal Bureau of Investigation, Money Laundering and Corruption. It is also being assisted by the Garda, HM Revenue and Customs and the Republic’s Criminal Assets Bureau.

Arrest warrants for Hardy and Maguire were issued by Judge Pablo Ruz of the Office of the National Court.

Last week it was revealed that Hardy has agreed to pay the Republic’s Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) €500,000 after a disagreement over an unpaid tax bill. The Dublin Criminal Court was told last July that the former IRA bomber was central to the peace process and an “integral” part of the Good Friday Agreement.

cbarnes@sundaylife.co.uk

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