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DIZZY HEIST Former IRA man Richard O'Rawe's Northern Bank robbery novel to get RTÉ TV treatment

The 68-year-old's writing career began with Blanketmen, about the IRA hunger strikes in which ten prisoners died

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Richard O’Rawe has a new book

Richard O’Rawe has a new book

Richard O’Rawe has a new book

Former IRA man Richard O'Rawe's Northern Bank robbery novel is getting the TV treatment.

US fans and RTE loved his debut Northern Heist with criminal creation James 'Ructions' O'Hare, and plans are on track for a TV series.

And he is back in action in new novel Goering's Gold, on the hunt for a stash of Nazi loot.

Richard says he's delighted the public love Ructions and could even see him as a big screen character.

In Northern Heist he's the mastermind behind the 2004 Northern Bank robbery in Belfast, stealing more than £26 million, with the IRA on his tail when he refuses to give them a cut of the profits.

"When it went to America it went bananas. They loved Ructions O'Hare and loved the thought that he's an anti-hero who's a serious hood," says Richard.

"It looks like that's going to be an RTE series and that's in the pipeline now. They're going to bring the action to Dublin.

"RTE loved it. They're the main funder and getting them on board was crucial. They're collaborating with two production companies at the minute.

"It's about 80 per cent there and I'll be happy when it's 100 per cent.

"With anything in TV and film you have to have the patience of Job."

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Goering's Gold, which is to be released in May.

Goering's Gold, which is to be released in May.

Goering's Gold, which is to be released in May.

 

His publishers are keen for more tales of Ructions, and Richard's given them a belter with Goering's Gold.

He's taken a nugget of truth - the legend that the Nazi leader stashed tons of gold somewhere in Europe before his death - and added a Ructions twist.

Richard sends his readers on a rollercoaster ride across France, Germany and the Alps before the gold trail takes the action back to Ireland.

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"It's a treasure hunt and Ireland is Treasure Island," says the writer.

"Ructions is at the centre of it, being monitored by Interpol and the gardai, pursued by neo Nazis who believe the gold is theirs, and the IRA who find out there are three tons of gold knocking about in Ireland.

"They say that Goering was a kleptomaniac who stole masterpieces and paintings and statues. Most were recovered, but not all, and there are real life treasure hunters, mostly in Bavaria, still trying to find it."

Richard's research revealed that Goering - Hitler's second-in-command - was also enormously charismatic, and his novel started with the question of who slipped the Nazi the cyanide tablet with which he committed suicide before facing trial.

"I've had this story in my head for eight or nine years. Goering was the sort of person you could build a story around. He is on the periphery of this, with his gold as the rationale of the story, and the trick for me was to tie Ructions in.

"The publishers are looking for another story about him and he could run for ever. I could write a dozen stories about him.

"I think this could go on to be a movie, but it will end up where it's supposed to end up."

The 68-year-old's writing career began with Blanketmen, about the IRA hunger strikes in which ten prisoners died.

He was the IRA press officer in the Maze when the British government made an offer which was acceptable to republican prisoners after the first four deaths, but it was rejected by the IRA Army Council on the outside, and as a result another six men died.

The claims were denied by senior republicans, but he stuck by them and was eventually backed up by the release of government documents, however it soured his relationship with former comrades.

"That doesn't raise its head at all now," he says.

"It took the Provos ten years to let it go. I never budged from what I said at any time. I couldn't. I could only tell what I knew to be the truth.

"I was trying to follow the arguments they were putting out and it wasn't easy because sometimes it changed between dinner time and teatime."

His next writing venture is a book with daughter Bernadette about the Witchfinder General, set in London.

He's also celebrating the success of In the Name of the Son, the stage play he's written with Martin Lynch based on his book about his friend Gerry Conlon, one of the Guildford Four who was wrongly convicted of the 1974 pub bombing, after he was released from jail.

It made its Lyric Theatre debut last year and is set to run again at the Grand Opera House in July before moving to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for a month.

Richard believes the one-man show, with actor Shaun Blaney playing more than 30 parts, could go even further.

"The story is fantastic. Gerry gets out of jail, gets £1 million, most of it goes up his nose, becomes a crackhead, leaves London and moves to Portsmouth where he becomes a hermit for five years, comes back to Belfast, buries his mother, meets this girl he knew 18 years ago who tells him he has an 18-year-old child, gets a ready-made family, his life is in great shape, and then he's told he has two weeks to live.

"It's a guy fighting to get his life back and when he gets it back it's all taken away from him.

"We think the show will go all the way," says Richard.

Goering's Gold published by Merrion Press is released on May 26.

roisin.gorman@sundayworld.com

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