Belfast Telegraph

Derry councillor held by Garda in probe over murder of IRA spy Donaldson

By Leona O'Neill

A republican councillor in Londonderry has been arrested in Donegal in connection with the shooting dead of Denis Donaldson, the senior MI5 spy who operated at the heart of the IRA and Sinn Fein.

Gary Donnelly, an independent councillor on Derry City and Strabane District Council, was yesterday arrested on suspicion of unlawful possession of a firearm at the home of Mr Donaldson on the day of his murder.

Mr Donaldson (56) - who had been a close associate of Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams - was gunned down as he answered the door of his remote rural cottage at Doochary, near Glenties, on April 4, 2006, after it emerged he was a British agent.

The Real IRA claimed responsibility for his murder.

Mr Donnelly was arrested by Garda shortly after 2pm yesterday afternoon as he returned from a republican commemoration in Dungloe.

The 46-year-old was one of the main speakers at the 100th anniversary of the Min Beannaid train ambush, commemorating the first action in the Irish War of Independence.

The vehicle Mr Donnelly was returning home to Derry in was stopped by officers at Crolly, Co Donegal.

He was arrested and taken to Letterkenny Garda station for questioning.

Mr Donnelly is being detained under Section 30 of the Offences against the State Act and can be detained for up to 72 hours.

Mr Donaldson was a prominent member of Sinn Fein before being expelled from the party after admitting being a British spy for 20 years.

During his time as an informer he was head of the party's administrative team at Stormont and was at one stage also in charge of international relations, spending time in the Middle East improving the party's presence there.

The inquest into the Belfast man's murder has been delayed 20 times.

It is believed that the delays are partly connected to sensitive material in the Garda's possession, namely a journal.

It is understood that the diary contains information about Donaldson's British handlers and political figures in Northern Ireland.

The Donaldson family have taken a legal challenge against the authorities over the delays.

The family, who claim that members of the PSNI played a role in exposing him, have also asked Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire to help them recover his journal from the Republic.

An Garda Siochana was contacted for comment on the matter but had not responded to this newspaper's request at time of going to print.

Belfast Telegraph


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