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I met SF leaders but they’re not pals, claims bank cash accused

A company director charged with laundering £3m from the Northern Bank robbery told gardai he’d met senior Sinn Fein leaders including Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness several times but would not call them friends.

Timothy ‘Ted’ Cunningham (60) also claimed to have met former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern during video-taped Garda interviews, which were viewed yesterday by a jury at his Cork Circuit Criminal Court trial.

Cunningham of Farran, Co Cork, denies a total of 20 charges of money-laundering related to the proceeds of the Northern Bank robbery in December 2004.

His home was searched with a warrant granted under the Offences Against the State Act.

Gardai confirmed to the trial that, on February 16 2005, they were “looking for evidence in relation to membership of an unlawful organisation”.

Two gardai told the trial it is not now believed that Ted Cunningham was a member of the IRA.

Cunningham repeatedly denied to gardai that he was ever a member of an illegal organisation.

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In one Garda interview video viewed yesterday, Cunningham confirmed that he had met senior Sinn Fein leaders Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and Pat Doherty a number of times.

But he said they were not friends.

“I met the man (Gerry Adams) on maybe two or three occasions. I wouldn’t say I was a friend of the man — the same as I met Bertie Ahern on two or three occasions,” he said.

Cunningham said that he had met Sinn Fein officials at functions he attended in the CityWest Hotel in Dublin a number of years ago — but had no connection whatsoever to the party.

“I am a Fianna Fail Republican.

“It is how you define Republican,” he said.

“I have never voted anything in my life, only FF.”

Cunningham told gardai that he was totally opposed to violence — and did not favour armed action to get British forces to quit Northern Ireland.

“I would like to see a 32 county Ireland but I don’t think it should be achieved by violence. I always held the view that violence is not the way forward," he said.

Cunningham confirmed that he had sent Christmas cards to self-confessed IRA man Joe Cahill and his wife — but he had also sent a Christmas card to Bertie Ahern.

“Joe Cahill wasn’t a friend no more than if I met Bertie Ahern, John Bruton or Dick Spring,” he said.

The jury of seven men and five women yesterday watched a Garda interview video which was halted at Ted Cunningham’s request when he told detectives he wanted to talk to them with the camera switched off.

The trial has already heard that more than £2.4 million cash was discovered in six holdalls and a plastic Dunnes Stores bag in the locked basement cupboard at Ted Cunningham’s Farran house.

The State has claimed that Ted Cunningham insisted to gardai during a search of his home that the Sterling was not from the Northern Bank raid — and rather was from a cash deal for a gravel pit in Shinrone, Co Offaly with two Bulgarians he refused to name.

The State has alleged that just over £4.9 million passed through Ted Cunningham’s hands — £2.5 million of which was recovered at Farran, Co Cork; t£1.5 million was dispersed “in panic” and £1.01 million was dispersed with gardai later recovering £605,320.

The main charge against Cunningham is that, between December 20, 2004 and February 16, 2005, at Farran, in Co Cork, he had £3,010,380 in cash in his possession believing it to be, or being reckless as to whether it was, the proceeds of criminal conduct.

The trial — which is now in its fourth week — is expected to last until Easter.

The case continues today.

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