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Man, 74, granted bail on charge of withholding information about IRA spy murder

Published 29/07/2016

Denis Donaldson was found dead at an isolated cottage in Donegal
Denis Donaldson was found dead at an isolated cottage in Donegal

An elderly man from Scotland has been granted bail after he was charged with withholding information surrounding the murder of IRA spy Denis Donaldson.

Patrick Gillespie, 74, from Craigvar Street in Glasgow, appeared before the Special Criminal Court in Dublin more than 10 years on from the killing of the top Sinn Fein official. He was ordered to surrender his passport and remain in Ireland ahead of his trial.

Mr Donaldson, 55, a close colleague of party president Gerry Adams, was shot dead at an isolated cottage near Glenties in Co Donegal in April 2006.

Gillespie, who was arrested in the county on Tuesday, was remanded with consent to bail from the non-jury court until his next appearance on October 26.

He was ordered to live at an address in Donegal with a mobile phone number known to gardai, to observe a night-time curfew and sign weekly at an Irish police station.

Two women are to freeze 15,000 euro (£12,600) worth of funds as a form of surety to be forfeited if the defendant fails to comply with bail conditions.

Presiding judge Alison Lindsay said: "Bail is granted."

Gillespie wore a black jacket and green T-shirt.

The three judges, Cormac Dunne, Ms Lindsay and judge Paul Butler, on Thursday heard Gillespie is charged with having information between between April 3 2006 and July 26 2016 regarding the involvement of another person in the Donaldson murder.

Bail was granted on Friday unopposed by police, who did not speak during the short hearing.

Gillespie was represented by senior counsel Michael O'Higgins and the prosecution by Tony McGillycuddy.

Mr O'Higgins confirmed: "The parties have agreed bail terms."

The accused's lawyer, Michael Gillespie LLB, gave details to the court about the surety under oath. The two women providing the guarantee were expected to arrive at the court this afternoon to sign to underwrite the bail.

The conditions mean Gillespie will:

:: Surrender his passport and travel documents;

:: Live at address in Co Donegal known to police;

:: Sign on every Saturday at Letterkenny Garda Station;

:: Observe an 11-7 curfew;

:: Will remain within the jurisdiction and won't associate with any other person before the court or contact any proposed prosecution witness;

:: Will provide a mobile telephone number to the Gardai with an Irish phone provider and leave it on.

Mr Donaldson had been living in a remote area of Donegal following his exposure as an MI5 agent a year before his death.

Dissident republican group the Real IRA claimed responsibility for the murder in 2008, but the circumstances surrounding Mr Donaldson's outing as a British agent and subsequent assassination have long been shrouded in mystery.

A long-delayed inquest into the shooting has been adjourned almost 20 times.

Gardai have repeatedly urged the coroner to postpone the probe, citing concerns it might compromise their criminal investigation.

In 2014, the Garda made a mutual assistance request to a police force outside the Irish Republic in a bid to gain what it described as potentially "significant" evidential material.

That material was secured in March this year.

Gillespie was one of two men arrested on Tuesday in Donegal.

The second man, in his 40s, was released without charge and a file is being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.

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