Furious Gerry Adams threatens to sue BBC and says he will meet with police
Pressure grows on Sinn Fein president after sensational accusations he sanctioned murder of party member turned British spy Donaldson
Gerry Adams has hit back as questions continue to build over sensational accusations that the Sinn Fein leader sanctioned the murder of an MI5 spy inside the party.
The Sinn Fein president said he specifically and categorically denied the allegation levelled in a BBC documentary that he approved the killing of Denis Donaldson.
The explosive claim was made by an anonymous man, who claimed he was also a paid state agent in the IRA, to the Spotlight programme.
Mr Donaldson (55), a Sinn Fein official and close colleague of Mr Adams, was shot dead at an isolated cottage near Glenties in Co Donegal in April 2006 following his exposure as a British spy.
Mr Adams, who said he would have no issue speaking to police to reiterate his denial, said he was consulting with his lawyer about potential legal action against the BBC. The corporation has said it stands by the story.
"That the BBC would broadcast unsubstantiated allegations from an anonymous person, a self-confessed agent, about me, I think is very, very low journalism indeed," Mr Adams said.
He added: "If my legal advisers give me the type of guidance that I require I will sue them. I'm not reluctant to sue."
Responding to the claim as he attended the National Ploughing Championships in Tullamore, Co Offaly, 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."
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 murder in April 2006 have long been shrouded in mystery.
The 55-year-old Sinn Fein official had been living in a remote area of Donegal after admitting a year earlier he had been acting as an agent for MI5 for the previous 20 years.
The informer on Spotlight said the murder had been commissioned by the IRA in south Armagh - with Mr Adams having "the final say."
The Ulster Unionists have called on Mr Adams to sue the BBC if claims he sanctioned the killing of his former colleague are false.
UUP MLA Doug Beattie said: "If the allegations made against Gerry Adams are not true, then he should take legal action against BBC Spotlight and if not, he needs to explain why not.
"If any other political leader on these islands was accused of the allegations made against Adams, they would have had to resign or at the very least stand aside. However, it seems that Sinn Fein leaders have no shame."
The SDLP meanwhile warned Sinn Fein is so busy dealing with their past they are incapable of governing. Party leader Colum Eastwood said: "All the while, as Gerry Adams' personal reputation remains the sole concern for that party, the needs of victims and survivors are pushed further down the agenda."
Mr Eastwood said the DUP would continue to "wipe the eye" of Sinn Fein "for as long as Sinn Fein is looking over its shoulder at allegations that continue to surface about their past".
"Sinn Fein are so busy sweeping up allegations about the past that it's no wonder they are incapable of governing effectively," he said.
DUP MP David Simpson has said that revelations about the role played by informants demonstrates the impact they had in compromising terrorist groups.
"Terrorists carried out 90% of the murders in Northern Ireland during the Troubles and it is the terrorists alone who bear responsibility for those deaths," the Upper Bann MP said.
"Attempts in the past have been made by terrorists to escape that direct responsibility by blaming collusion and informants for some of the most brutal terrorist atrocities.
"We must continue to resist such attempts to rewrite history."
TUV leader Jim Allister argued: "In light of the serious allegations made in the programme it is incumbent upon the Garda to interview Gerry Adams about the murder of Mr Donaldson.
"There is also an onus on the BBC to hand over all material which they possess relevant to the investigation.
"The pursuit of justice in a murder investigation should trump all other concerns."
Sinn Fein's Martin 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."
A spokeswoman for the BBC said: "The Spotlight programme dealt with matters of great public interest and the BBC stands by its journalism."