A reconvened inquest into the death of former senior Sinn Fein member Denis Donaldson in Letterkenny yesterday afternoon heard that gardai were “actively” pursuing new avenues in his murder investigation.
Self-confessed British spy Donaldson (56) was hit by four shotgun blasts at his remote cottage at Cloghercor on Monday, April 3, 2006.
His exposure in 2005 as an informer within the ranks of the IRA sent shockwaves throughout republican circles.
Donaldson was one of three men arrested in a raid on the Sinn Féin offices as part of a high-profile police investigation into an alleged Irish republican spy-ring. In spite of the charges being later dropped, the Stormontgate affair in 2002 brought the Assembly to a shuddering halt for several years while the accusations flew between the various political sides.
Yesterday, Superintendent Michael Finan told Coroner Dr Denis McCauley that he was seeking a nine-month adjournment.
The inquest had been adjourned three times in the past. Supt Finan said avenues were actively being pursued.
The Donaldson family’s solicitor, Ciaran Shiels of Belfast firm Madden and Finucane, confirmed they were happy to have the inquest adjourned.
Mr Shiels said the family has been in correspondence with the Assistant Garda Commissioner in recent months and that they recognised there is an ongoing investigation and it needs time to be explored.
However, Mr Shiels said he would be seeking a six-month adjournment adding that the fourth anniversary of Mr Donaldson’s death was approaching.
“We are mindful of the fact that there is a duty of promptness on the part of the gardai,” Mr Shiels said.
He cited the case of the 1991 murder of Tyrone man Patrick Shanahan by loyalist paramilitaries near Castlederg.
The Shanahan family, he said, had taken their case to the European Court and were awarded compensation against the UK Government as there had been a four-and-a-half year delay in bringing the inquest to a full hearing.
Supt Finan said he was seeking a nine-month adjournment as their investigation was very “technical in detail”.
Dr McCauley said he would adjourn for six months. He adjourned the inquest for mention to August 26.