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Ex-Provo claims Sinn Fein chief Gerry Adams sanctioned murder of spy Donaldson in Donegal cottage

Republican leader accused over the execution of Denis Donaldson in 2006

By Allan Preston

Published 21/09/2016

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams
Denis Donaldson
Scene of the murder in 2006

A former IRA member has claimed Gerry Adams sanctioned the 2006 murder of Denis Donaldson, the senior Sinn Fein official who was working as a British spy.

Mr Donaldson was killed by a shotgun blast in April 2006 as he opened the door to his cottage in Glenties, Donegal. He was in hiding after being outed as a British agent of nearly 20 years.

The IRA denied his murder at the time, but a BBC Spotlight investigation broadcast last night said security forces still believed the IRA was responsible.

Another former IRA member who was recruited as an agent by RUC Special Branch, identified only as 'Martin', told the programme he knew personally that Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams sanctioned the killing.

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".

"I know from my experience in the IRA that murders have to be approved by the leadership, the political (and) military leadership of the IRA," said Martin.

Asked who he was referring to specifically, he said: "Gerry Adams, he gives the final say."

A statement from Mr Adams' solicitor has denied the allegations.

He said his client "had no involvement and no knowledge whatsoever in Denis Donaldson's killing. He categorically denies he was consulted on what he calls an alleged IRA army council decision or that he had any final say in the matter being sanctioned."

Spotlight said security sources told them the South Armagh IRA commissioned the killing, something they learned from agents and covert surveillance. They added that South Armagh IRA leader Thomas 'Slab' Murphy "insisted that Donaldson be killed in order to maintain army discipline" and that the IRA in the area commissioned the execution. Mr Murphy's solicitor was contacted by Spotlight but they have received no response. Martin said he had informed his Special Branch sources about what he learned about the murder. "Not too long after Denis was murdered I was told by an active member of the IRA that the IRA had killed him, not anybody else," he said.

"I gave that information to the Special Branch. They were just totally mute, there wasn't any acknowledgement of what I had said. The subject was changed to something else."

Asked if he was surprised, he said: "No I think they knew themselves. I just think that they had seen Donaldson's death as internal housekeeping, they were happy enough to put up with that." He said they chose at times not to act on information as "it was too politically sensitive to do so."

The dissident group the Real IRA claimed responsibility for Donaldson's killing in 2009 - something Martin dismissed. "I believe the Real IRA claimed it three years later for the kudos in the hope that someone might take them more seriously."

A Garda investigation into the murder is ongoing. In July a 74-year-old man was charged in connection with withholding information in connection with the murder.

Spotlight said they understood the investigation is now focused on a separate individual outside the Irish Republic described as "sympathetic to dissident republicans." Martin stopped working for Special Branch in the years after Donaldson's death.

"I felt I had nothing left to give them," he said.

"It came to an end at my request. They were quite happy about that and thanked me for years of service. I've absolutely no regrets about my time working as an agent for the State. I'd do it tomorrow if I had to."

A journal written by Denis Donaldson is currently being held by Garda investigators. He was encouraged to write it by republicans as part of his debriefing process.

Material in the journal has been shared with PSNI Police Ombudsman investigators, who are expected to publish a report later this year.

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