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Real IRA: We killed spy Donaldson - it had nothing to do with Sinn Fein chief Gerry Adams

By Suzanne Breen

Published 29/09/2016

Outside and inside the house
Outside and inside the house
Outside and inside the house
Outside and inside the house
Denis Donaldson stands beside Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams
The scene of Donaldson's murder in 2006

A former Real IRA leader has said that the dissident paramilitary group - not the Provisional IRA - killed British spy Denis Donaldson.

The dissident figure, who was a member of the Real IRA army council, said that Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams had "absolutely nothing to do with the execution of British agent, Denis Donaldson".

The allegations that the Sinn Fein official-turned-spy had been killed by the Provisional IRA, and that his 2006 murder had been sanctioned by Mr Adams, was made in a BBC Spotlight programme last week.

The claim was made by a man - known in the programme as 'Martin' - who described himself as a former Sinn Fein and IRA member who worked as a Special Branch agent. Mr Adams has denied any involvement in Donaldson's murder.

The former Real IRA army council member last night told the Belfast Telegraph: "Let me be clear about this. A claim of responsibility was made by (the Real IRA) in 2009 and it was correct.

"Gerry Adams had absolutely nothing to do with the execution of British agent Denis Donaldson. The Provisional IRA wasn't involved in any shape or form. I don't know why allegations that the Provos did it are now being made but they are totally untrue."

The BBC programme claimed that the Provos' south Armagh brigade had demanded that Donaldson be murdered.

When asked if his organisation may even have been in contact with south Armagh Provisionals regarding Donaldson, the former Real IRA leader said: "We had no dealings with them. We didn't even have anyone from south Armagh on our army council at the time."

The Donaldson family don't believe the Provisional IRA killed him or that Mr Adams sanctioned the murder.

Speaking after a meeting with senior gardai last week, the family's lawyer, Ciaran Shiels, told the BBC that Spotlight's claims did "not marry in any way with the lines of inquiry that have been progressed by the guards or by the (Police) Ombudsman". The BBC has said it stands by its journalism.

Denis Donaldson
Denis Donaldson
Denis Donaldson
Scene of the murder in 2006
Outside and inside the house

Mr Donaldson was shot dead in April 2006 in his cottage in Glenties, Co Donegal. The Real IRA claimed responsibility in a statement to this reporter three years later. The paramilitary organisation has since merged with other republican groups to form the New IRA.

In the 2009 claim of responsibility, a Real IRA army council representative said that masked gunmen had sledgehammered down the door of Mr Donaldson's cottage.

"The look on his face wasn't even one of shock. He seemed to know what was coming," the spokesman claimed.

Although Mr Donaldson's family visited him regularly, the Real IRA said they had his house under surveillance and knew he was alone when they struck.

The spokesman said that Mr Donaldson had no plan to defend himself. "He hadn't a baseball or hurley bat, a knife or anything like that at hand. There was a struggle and he ended up on the ground. He didn't cry out or plead for mercy. He remained silent all the time," he said.

The Real IRA claimed that Mr Donaldson's right hand was virtually severed in the shooting. There was some media speculation that this was symbolic because of the money he had taken from the British for his services. "That wasn't so," the dissident spokesman said. "His hand was blown away because he'd raised it to protect his head."

The killers had used a shotgun, which is very difficult to trace forensically, in the attack. The paramilitary group claimed responsibility for shooting Mr Donaldson shortly after the murder of two British soldiers at Massereene.

There was extreme hostility between the Provisionals and the Real IRA with Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness branding the Massereene gunmen "traitors to the island of Ireland".

Claiming responsibility for Mr Donaldson's murder, the Real IRA accused the Provisionals of "treachery". It alleged that they had done "a dirty deal with Donaldson like they did with Freddie Scappaticci" by allowing him to live in Donegal.

Further reading

Donaldson relatives reject claim he was killed by IRA on Adams' orders

Denis Donaldson family do not blame Provisional IRA for murder  

Donaldson murder: Police say Provos not to blame - 'Genuine surprise' at BBC allegations  

Fingerprints of Gerry Adams critic found in Donaldson murder cottage  

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