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Denis Donaldson family do not blame Provisional IRA for murder

Published 23/09/2016

Denis Donaldson was shot dead at an isolated cottage near Glenties in Co Donegal
Denis Donaldson was shot dead at an isolated cottage near Glenties in Co Donegal

Denis Donaldson's family have said they do not believe the Provisional IRA killed him, or that his shooting was sanctioned by Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams.

Lawyer for the Donaldson family, Ciaran Shiels, met Garda Deputy Assistant Commissioner Derek Byrne and two other senior police officers in Belfast on Friday.

He told BBC Northern Ireland that the officers had provided an update on progress in their investigation.

Mr Shiels said: "The one theme that has come out of today's meeting is that the theory that was being advanced by BBC Spotlight earlier this week, that this was in some way carried out by the Provisional IRA or authorised by Gerry Adams, I think it's absolute nonsense.

"It does not marry in any way with the lines of inquiry that have been progressed by the guards [Garda] or by the (police) ombudsman."

The BBC said it stood by its journalism.

Gardai investigating the murder have already ruled out any involvement by mainstream republicans.

Intelligence gathered by the PSNI has also ruled out any involvement by the Provisional IRA.

This information was passed to gardai investigating the case who have always focused their attention on dissidents.

The repetition of this position yesterday by security sources raised questions about the claims of the former IRA man and British agent who told the BBC the IRA killed Donaldson. One garda source described it as "a pile of c***".

A reliable security source in Northern Ireland also said there was genuine surprise the BBC Spotlight programme made the allegation.

"No one, and I mean no one, on either side of the border believes this claim has an ounce of truth in it," he added. "The guards say it's nonsense and the PSNI believe the same. The so-called Real IRA did this."

Mr Donaldson was killed by a shotgun blast in April 2006 as he opened the door to his cottage in Glenties, Donegal.

Gerry Adams with Denis Donaldson in 2005
Gerry Adams with Denis Donaldson in 2005

He was in hiding after being outed as a British agent of nearly 20 years.

The IRA denied his murder at the time, but the BBC spoke to a man who claims to be a former IRA member who was recruited as an agent by RUC Special Branch, identified only as ‘Martin’.

He told the programme he knew personally that Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams sanctioned the killing.

Scene of the murder in 2006
Scene of the murder in 2006

Spotlight said they understood Gerry Adams had stepped aside from the IRA army council in 2006, but according to Martin “he is consulted in all matters”.

Dissident republican group the Real IRA claimed responsibility for the murder in 2009 but the circumstances surrounding Mr Donaldson's outing as a British agent and subsequent death have long been shrouded in mystery.

Mary Lou McDonald: Name the source

Outside and inside the house
Outside and inside the house

Meanwhile Sinn Fein Deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald has called on the BBC to provide Gardai with the name of the source featured in the Spotlight investigation.

Ms McDonald called the allegations “a ball of smoke” made by an anonymous person who she described as “a self-proclaimed informant and therefore party to the agenda of the British State”.

She said she is “mindful that journalists jealously guard their sources”.

Outside and inside the house
Outside and inside the house

But added: “I think in circumstances like this where there’s a live Garda investigation if people claim that they have information or evidence of course the appropriate people to bring that forward to is An Garda Síochána”.

"The Gardai have to do their job to and the family deserve to know exactly what happened. The people who carried this out need to be brought to book.

"The Gardai have had no reason to interview Gerry Adams on these matters because Gerry has no involvement. That’s the simple fact."

Adams 'will speak to police if asked'

On Thursday Gerry Adams has said he would be prepared to speak to police if asked to do so.

Mr Adams said he categorically denied the allegations that he sanctioned the murder of the former Sinn Fein member.

Speaking to reporters at the Ploughing Championship in Tullamore, Co Offaly, the Louth TD insisted the allegations are false.

He said he does not know who killed Mr Donaldson in 2006.

"It's wrong. I repudiate it, deny it absolutely and categorically and specifically," he said.

Asked if he will speak to the police if they wish him to? "Absolutely, of course I will."

The #BBC Spotlight' programme heard from a former IRA member turned British agent known as 'Martin' who alleged that Mr Adams sanctioned the murder of Mr Donaldson in 2006.

The murder happened a decade after the so-called IRA ceasefire was announced.

The veteran republican accused "elements within the British system" of trying to undermine him and his party.

"We have to look at what's behind this agenda," he said.

"The person who made this allegation - an anonymous, unnamed, self-professed agent of the British state. So whose agenda is that serving? This is an attempt to rewrite history.

"There are elements within the British system who will never be reconciled with the fact that we have got a peace process and that Sinn Fein are in the leadership of that process, along with others; that Martin McGuinness, for example, leads the administration in the north along with (DUP First Minister) Arlene Foster; that we've got five Sinn Fein ministers (in Northern Ireland); that we are growing here in this part of the island (Irish Republic) and that's what this and what that agenda is about."

Sinn Fein's Mr McGuinness branded the allegation against his party colleague "total rubbish".

"The fact is the Donaldson family are actually very close to all of us within the leadership of Sinn Fein," said Stormont's Deputy First Minister.

"And I think the fact that dissident republicans claimed responsibility for this and it appears for the last 10 years the Garda Siochana in Donegal have been investigating that line of inquiry I think gives total nonsense to the allegation that was made principally by someone who appears to be a paid agent, and I use the word 'agent' in inverted commas."

He said the documentary lacked credibility and insisted the claims would not damage Sinn Fein.

"Sinn Fein have had to deal with programmes like this for the last 30-odd years," he said.

"The important thing for us is the wisdom and intelligence of the electorate is there for everybody to see.

"Even against the backdrop of recurring programmes over 30 years, just a few weeks ago the electorate returned us with the DUP to take the government of the north further on, so I don't believe it's going to damage Sinn Fein in the least."

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin accused Sinn Féin of adopting an "attack and deny" response to allegations.

Speaking to reporters at the Ploughing Championships in Tullamore, Co Offaly, Mr Martin admitted that he had not seen the programme in its entirely.

But he attacked Sinn Fein, saying the party is not fit for Government.

"I do get concerned when Sinn Fein just pounce on the messenger, attack and deny, attack and deny, which is a standard pattern od sinn fein response to situations like this," Mr Martin said.

The Cork South Central TD also expressed concern that there has not yet been an inquest into Mr Donaldson's murder.

Asked whether Fianna Fáil would consider entering government with Sinn Fein in the future, he replied:

"Our view is very consistent with our view before the election. We will not be going into governnment with Sinn Féin. We do not believe Sinn Fein is fit for governmebt.

"Their whole modus operandi is wrong. It's not a democratic party and we are very, very clear about that."

A spokeswoman for the BBC said: "The Spotlight programme dealt with matters of great public interest and the BBC stands by its journalism."

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