The latest finds on Monday will heap more pressure on the IRA's political allies Sinn Fein to break its close links with the outlawed guerrilla organisation.

   

Criticism of Sinn Fein, Northern Ireland's main Catholic party, has mounted rapidly since December's $50.28 million bank robbery in Belfast, widely blamed on the IRA  (Irish Republican Army).

   

Local media reported that another $829,200 was found in raids across Ireland at the weekend. Police have yet to comment.

 

Severe blow

   

Allegations that Sinn Fein is involved in IRA crime have dealt a severe blow to Anglo-Irish efforts to restore a local government that shared power between Protestants and Catholics in the British-ruled province.

 

The December robbery has been
blamed on the IRA

The assembly, set up as part of the 1998 peace agreement that largely ended 30 years of sectarian violence, collapsed over two years ago as the two sides argued over an alleged IRA spying ring. The province has been run by London ever since.

   

London and Dublin say IRA crime is scuppering progress and that Sinn Fein, which wants the province to be part of the Republic, must sever its links with paramilitaries if it wants to get the assembly up and running again.

 

Sanctions

 

Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy will tell the British parliament on Tuesday what sanctions he plans to impose after the province's ceasefire watchdog, the Independent Monitoring Commission, said Sinn Fein approved of the bank heist and recommended financial penalties.

 

Gerry Adams accused of sitting
on IRA 'Army Council'

Murphy was meeting Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell in Belfast later on Monday to discuss the money laundering investigations.

   

On Sunday, McDowell caused a stir when he said Sinn Fein leaders including Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness sat on the IRA's ruling seven man "Army Council" - the first serving minister to openly voice the allegation.

   

Eight people, including one man linked to Sinn Fein, were arrested as part of the money laundering probe last week. He and six others were released without charge. One man was charged with being a member of the IRA.

   

In a separate case, five men who police say were members of an active IRA unit were found guilty in Dublin on Monday of membership of an illegal organisation.