Belfast Telegraph

Family of murdered IRA spy Denis Donaldson in battle for diary

By Adrian Rutherford

Lawyers for the family of a murdered spy Denis Donaldson are threatening legal action to obtain a diary which may hold clues about his death.

Donaldson, a former Sinn Fein senior official, was shot dead at a remote cottage in Co Donegal eight years ago.

He had been living there since his exposure as an MI5 agent the previous year.

Relatives believe a journal which he was writing in the weeks before his murder may hold important information.

However, Garda have refused to make it available to investigators — prompting solicitors to warn they could be forced to take a judicial review.

It is the latest in a long-running legal battle surrounding Donaldson’s death.

Last month the family accused gardai of stringing them along with “bogus claims”.

Donaldson was kicked out of Sinn Fein in December 2005 after admitting he had been a British agent for 20 years.

The 55-year-old, once a close colleague of Gerry Adams, fled his Belfast home and had been living in a rundown cottage near Glenties.

Although the Real IRA claimed responsibility for the murder three years later, the circumstances surrounding Donaldson’s outing and subsequent killing have been shrouded in mystery.

The Police Ombudsman is investigating claims that PSNI officers who knew about his secret life may have exposed him as an agent and contributed to his death.

They believe his diary may hold important clues.

Lawyers for the Donaldson family have reportedly written to the Garda asking for a copy of the journal to be made available to the Ombudsman.

In a letter obtained by the BBC, solicitor Ciaran Shiels claims the Ombudsman's investigation is being impeded by the refusal to make the journal available.

He also said that such a refusal constituted a breach of the family's right to a fully independent investigation, as set out in the European Convention on Human Rights.

If the Garda refuse to hand it over, Mr Shiels said he would seek a judicial review in the Dublin courts.

Last month Donaldson’s family hit out at the delay in holding an inquest into his death.

Relatives said they had no faith in gardai and will not attend preliminary inquest hearings being held approximately once every six months in Letterkenny.

“The gardai are now stringing along the Coroner’s Court and the family with bogus claims and a flagrant disregard for European Court of Human Rights obligations,” they said.

“The effectiveness and independence of the investigatory process, and the completed Garda investigation, has lost any credibility.”

Last month’s hearing was told gardai had uncovered “new and significant” leads in their hunt for the killers.

Further reading

Gardai have 'new leads' in Denis Donaldson murder probe

Denis Donaldson family demands answers in murder probe

Real IRA: We murdered Denis Donaldson

Donaldson offered 'get out of jail card'

 

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